Bob Arum expects Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) to revert to the running style of fighting that he used to defeat Andy Ruiz Jr when he gets in the ring tonight against Kubrat Pulev at the Wembley Arena in London.
If Pulev wants to put a smile on Arum’s face tonight, he’ll take care of business against Joshua and send him down to his second career defeat.
Arum says IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua will run, and the challenger Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) will track him down and pummel him to score a knockout.
Joshua has the advantage in terms of speed, power, size, youth, and the home crowd. With that said, Joshua looked like the shell of his former self in his victory over Ruiz last December, and many fans express doubt that the old AJ can come back.
Arum would like nothing better than his fighter Pulev, 39, to beat Joshua tonight and force him into a rematch. There would be a lot of money that can be made by Top Rank and Pulev in a second encounter with Joshua.
Arum’s end game is for the big 6’4 1/2″ Bulgarian to beat Joshua twice and then advance to a unification fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.
It’s unlikely that Arum will have Pulev waste time with WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk, so we’ll almost surely see that title vacated.
Arum: Kubrat will pummel Joshua
“I really think Anthony Joshua does an Andy Ruiz, the rematch, and runs around [the ring all night], and my guy [Pulev] will corner him and pummel him,” said Bob Arum.
“If Joshua actually fights Pulev, I like my guy’s chances. I think Joshua’s chin is suspect, and I think Pulev knocks him out,” said Arum.
Pulev is dangerous says, Eddie Hearn
“Really dangerous because he’s a top 10 heavyweight, probably a top 5 heavyweight, and he’s the [WBO] mandatory challenger, and very experienced,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing in previewing tonights’ Joshua vs. Pulev fight.
“He has one fight with Wladimir Klitschko. All these fighters raise their game when they fight AJ. All of a sudden, you see them turn up 10 pounds lighter, and they have a six-pack [abs] from nowhere because this is their golden chance to beat Anthony Joshua.
“He [Pulev] talks about his father having a dream of his son becoming the world heavyweight champion. Tonight, he’s one punch from realizing that dream.
“So it’s always dangerous in the division, and Pulev is a world-class fighter. I believe you’re going to see a fantastic performance by Anthony Joshua.
Arum will be doing a lot of gloating if Pulev beats Joshua because his guy has been overlooked since the start of the promotion.
Also, Arum and Hearn sometimes don’t see things eye to eye, which would be one way for Bob to get back at the young upstart. Hearn has talked of wanting to become the United States’ biggest promoter, as he’s done in the UK.
The motivation and the self-confidence that Pulev has will make him very dangerous tonight because he’s not going to be afraid as most of Joshua’s opponents.
Pulev knows that he’s got a lot to gain if he beats Joshua, and you can expect him to fight out of his shoes in giving it his all to try and beat him.
Pulev doesn’t pack a punch with his hooks and uppercuts, but he does have respectable power with his straight right hands and his jab.
If Pulev can land his right hand on Joshua’s chin, he could stun him and knock him down.
Hearn looking ahead to Joshua-Fury in 2021
“I believe so, but you’ve got to get through tonight,” said Hearn when asked if we’ll see Joshua vs. Tyson Fury in 2021.
“This is one of the most dangerous fights of Anthony Joshua’s career for many different reasons, but we need a great performance tonight, and then we can move forward and start talking about fights after tonight.
“But tonight, it’s all about Anthony Joshua trying to defeat Kubrat Pulev and holding onto his world championship belts,” said Hearn.
“Tonight, we are very proud to see 1,000 fans in the SSE Arena, and by the way, if you have a ticket, congratulations because this is going to be the most intimate unique experience that you’ll ever watch Anthony Joshua fighting,” said Hearn.
“AJ ring walks about 10, 10:30. I cannot tell you how tense it’s going to be in here later. This is our last UK show in 2020.
“It’s been a different year, to say the least, but we are ready for the biggest star [Joshua] in boxing to put on a world-class performance tonight. I believe you’re going to see something extraordinary. Do not miss it,” said Hearn.
Hearn is talking now, and he doesn’t believe that Pulev has much if any chance of defeating Joshua tonight.
He’s completely convinced that Joshua has the victory in the bag. Hence, he’s already talking about Joshua’s next fight against Fury.
Interestingly, Fury refused to help Hearn squeeze out a few more pay-per-view buys for the Joshua vs. Pulev broadcast on Sky Box Office by attending the fight at Wembley Stadium and getting in the ring afterward.
It would have been a great way for Hearn and Matchroom Boxing to begin the early promotion for the two Joshua vs. Fury fights in 2021 if ‘The Gypsy King’ had agreed to be present tonight.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) may still need to face Deontay Wilder in a third fight before taking on Joshua. There’s still a mediation process going on with Wilder over his contract with Fury for a third match.
Fury and his team think the contract has expired, but that may not be. If not, then Fury will need t take on Wilder in early next year, and that’s going to be a risky one.
If Fury doesn’t have his mind entirely focused on the task at hand against Wilder, he’ll get sparked out this time, and there may not be a referee that bothers giving him a count if he’s unconscious like in their 2018 fight.
There’s obviously some bad blood on Fury’s part due to the way that Joshua has been having fun making comments about him during interviews, and it’s obvious that he’s been trying to upset him.