IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua takes on the always tough Kubrat Pulev LIVE on DAZN tonight and here’s live action in the card from the Wembley Arena in London, England:
Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) looked impressive in beating a very old-looking Kubrat Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) in a 9th round KO to retain his IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles in the headline event.
Joshua, 30, knocked Pulev down twice in round nine, and the fight was stopped after Kubrat failed to get back to his feet to beat his count. Just before that, Joshua knocked Pulev down with a beautiful uppercut.
In the third round, Joshua knocked Pulev down twice. Pulev turned his back on Joshua after getting hurt for the first knockdown.
You can argue that the fight should have been stopped at that point, as Pulev, 39, was defenseless and looked like he was waving the white flat by turning his back.
But the referee allowed the fight to continue and was a one-sided affair from that point.
All the muscle weight that Pulev lost from his previous fight had him looking thin, weak, and stringy. It’s unclear why Pulev chose to melt down from a very muscular 248 to 239 lbs, but I think it was a poor decision on his part.
In a devastating display of punching power, cruiserweight knockout artist Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) destroyed the previously unbeaten Nikodem Jezewski (19-1-1, 9 KOs) in a second-round TKO victory to win the vacant WBO International cruiserweight title in the co-feature bout.
Okolie showed off his huge power right away in the first, dropping Jezewski, 29, with a right hand to the body in the first minute of action.
Jezewski was hurt moments later by a right hand from Okolie that causes his legs to turn to jelly, although he somehow stayed up.
Three times in the first round, Okolie had Jezewski looking paralyzed after getting hit with hands. Each time, Okolie stood and watched rather than going for the finish.
It was strange to watch, as Okolie seemed to be waiting for Jezewski to fall, but he was able to stay up and continue fighting without showing any effects.
Late in the round, Okolie put Jezewski down with a hard right hand to the head. It was clear after this knockdown that Jezewski wouldn’t last much longer.
In the second round, Okolie finished Jezewski with a hard right to the head. The badly hurt Jezewski beat the count from referee Phil Edwards, but he halted it anyway in looking at how hurt the Polish fighter was.
Okolie will next face Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title in early 2021. The way that Okolie fought tonight, he’s likely to be a huge favorite against Glowacki. If he wins the WBO title, Okolie is expected to go after IBF champion Mairis Briedis and some of the other cruiserweight champions.
Heavyweight Hughie Fury (25-3, 14 KO) put in an impressive performance in beating former world title challenger Mariusz Wach (36-7, 19 KO) by a 10 round unanimous decision in a bloody battle.
Hughie, 26, boxed well from the outside in the second half of the fight but showed very little punching power. The scores were 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91.
Hughie was plodding around early, clinching frequently, which resulted in him suffering a bad cut over his left eye. Once Hughie started moving, the 6’7″ Wach found it difficult to land anything of note from the sixth round on.
All in all, it was a good effort from Hughie, who is no longer ranked in the top 15 after losses to Kubrat Pulev, Alexander Povetkin, and Joshua Parker.
Hughie looked good against journeyman level fighters, but when he gets in there with fighters with talent, his limitations are exposed.
Martin Bakole UD 10 Sergey Kuzmin
Kieron Conway UD 10 Macaulay McGowan
Florian Marku draw 8 Jamie Stewart
In the main event tonight, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is hoping to beat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) to get him out of the way so that he can face WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.
Understandably, Pulev has other ideas, as he wants to rip Joshua’s three titles away from him to force a lucrative rematch in the first part of 2021.
The oddsmakers aren’t giving the 39-year-old Pulev much of a chance of winning tonight, though, considering they have him as a big underdog.
Pulev’s lack of punching power, advanced age, and the fact that he’s only one good heavyweight during his 11-year career lost badly in a fifth-round knockout to Wladimir Klitschko are perhaps why he’s not being given a chance to win.
As we saw in AJ’s defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr last year, he’s vulnerable against almost anyone in the heavyweight division, which is what makes Joshua so exciting to watch.
He’s got the fragile Klitschko chin, as well as his horrible stamina. Anytime you watch a Joshua fight, you’re on pins and needles, not knowing what you’re going to get from him.
Even when Joshua is dominating, he looks one punch away from being knocked out. Pulev has respectable power, and he’s got a lot of size working in his favor. His jab is arguably the best in the heavyweight division, and he fights well from the outside.
Joshua will need to mix it up with Pulev tonight if he wants to ensure that he gets the victory.
In other fights on the card, heavyweight Hughie Fury (24-3, 14 KO) will be trying to keep his career alive against former world title challenger Mariusz Wach (36-6, 19 KO) in a 10-round fight.
Several years ago, Hughie was one of the top heavyweights in the division, if for no other reason than he shares the same name as his cousin Tyson Fury.
But after three defeats against James Parker, Alexander Povetkin, and Pulev, Hughie is no longer ranked in the top 15, and he’s now fighting just to try and get back in the upper tier rankings.
Hughie must beat the 40-year-old Wach tonight if he’s to get pushed back up the rankings. A loss to Wach would pretty much spell the end of Hughie’s career, and it’s hard to imagine him not retiring.