Anthony Joshua, now a two-time heavyweight champion (and this after just 24 pro fights) has suffered one massive shock/upset defeat and he is obviously going to do everything in his power to avoid losing again. Can he do it? This, fans may say, will depend on who Joshua fights in the coming months and years.
The fight, or fights, we all want to see are Joshua against Deontay Wilder (in a fight that really, honestly could be dubbed “Finally!”) and Joshua against Tyson Fury. But we fans are almost certainly going to have to continue to play the waiting game for those two mega-fights. The word is it will likely be Kubrat Pulev next for AJ, in a WBA mandatory defence.
This fight, a solid if far from spectacular one, at least on paper and in the minds of a good number of fans (this one included), could come in the spring, in the UK. And as tough as it might be to make a strong case for a Pulev win – the Bulgarian is no huge puncher, he is not that hard to hit, he is not too fast and he is closing in on his fortieth birthday – promoter Bob Arum is doing just that.
Speaking with IFL.tv, the Hall of Fame promoter who recently celebrated his 88th birthday (and shows zero signs of slowing down) stated that “by that time [the end of next year], there ain’t going to be an Anthony Joshua as a top fighter.” Why? Because, Arum says, “Pulev is gonna knock him on his ass in his next fight.”
“Let me let you in on a secret,” Arum said to IFL. “You may agree or disagree. But by that time [the end of 2020], there ain’t going to be an Anthony Joshua as a top fighter. I’ve got a Bulgarian named Pulev who’s gonna knock him on his ass in his next fight. I think everyone is in agreement that Pulev will be next.”
Pulev, 28-1(14) is certainly a good fighter, physically strong and durable, but does he have the tools to upset Joshua? We all know anything can and does happen in the heavyweight division (and would/will Pulev be any bigger a betting outsider against AJ than Andy Ruiz was back in June?) but Joshua seems to have everything on his side as far as this match-up goes: youth, speed, power, athleticism, home country advantage, experience at pro level. Yes, Pulev has a ton of pro experience himself, but Joshua, in his 24 pro bouts, has seen more differing styles of fighter than Pulev has – what with Joshua being in there with Wladimir Klitschko (common opponent of the two), Ruiz, Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte, Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker.
Again, it just seems too tough to make a good case for a Pulev win here. But what do you guys think, is Arum right?