Dillian Whyte and Carl Froch both think that Anthony Joshua allowed Kubrat Pulev to stay in there too long before putting his foot on the accelerator and knocking him out in the ninth round last Saturday night in their fight at Wembley Stadium.
Whyte believes that Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) got stuck between styles in boxing too much from the outside and not using his old battle-oriented style of fighting that had taken him this far in his career.
When Joshua did finally revert back to his old slugging style, he tore the 39-year-old Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) apart in the ninth round, dropping him twice to get the knockout.
Did Joshua use Pulev as practice?
Whyte thinks that Joshua may have wanted to practice fighting on the outside to get him ready for the 6’9″ Tyson Fury, who he’ll need to be able to box from long range if he’s to have a shot at winning.
What was worrisome about Joshua’s performance against Pulev is the way that he gassed out in the third round after knocking him down and hurting him. Joshua gassed out and didn’t get his second wind until the eighth.
If Pulev had pressure on Joshua in rounds four through seven, he could have potentially given him problems, and possibly knocked him out.
Pulev’s age, lack of power, and the atrophied look to his muscles, it was clear that couldn’t do anything against Joshua, no matter how tired the big 6’6″ Brit was last Saturday night.
It’s unclear why Pulev chose to lose so much muscle from his previous fight in which he was close to 250 lbs against Rydell Booker, but it was observable how his muscles had atrophied.
“It was a strange performance,” Whyte said to skysports about Joshua. “He was like he was trapped between two different styles.
“What got him the victory was going back to the old him and being aggressive. He could have made easier work of it. He let Pulev hang around longer than he needed to.
“Maybe he just wanted to show something different. With the Fury fight, maybe he wanted to show a different side to his game,” said Whyte.
Dillian fails to remember what happened to Joshua last year with him getting knocked out in the seventh round against Andy Ruiz Jr.
AJ has lost confidence
If he’s wondering why Joshua was boxing more than slugging, it’s pretty obvious that he’s lost faith in his ability to take a heavy shot.
It wasn’t until Joshua realized that Pulev had zero punching power that he finally started showing some aggression, but that was short-lived. Joshua gassed almost immediately in the third round after putting Pulev down.
Like in Joshua’s fights against Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko, once he gassed out, he didn’t get his second wind until four rounds later. Joshua was lucky that Pulev didn’t have the youth, power, or the ring intelligence to realize how tired he was.
The lack of stamina that Joshua showed is something that will surely be noticed by Tyson Fury and Oleksander Usyk, and they’ll be sure to take advantage of that when they face him.
If Joshua gasses out against either of those fighters, he’ll be knocked out straight away, and he won’t be given three to four rounds to recover as Pulev and Wladimir gave him.
Joshua looks like a shadow of his former self
If you’re Eddie Hearn, you have to be a little disappointed with what he saw from Joshua against Pulev because he showed all the flaws that had been there in the past. In other words, there was absolutely no improvement in Joshua’s game.
Indeed, Joshua looks worse now because when he’s boxing, he’s giving his opponents more of a chance to beat him because he’s mediocre when he’s on the outside.
“AJ did take his foot off the gas. He used a lot of energy [in the third round], and he’s a big lad, so the oxygen gets swallowed up,” said Carl Froch.
To take your foot off the gas for five rounds, it’s worrisome that it took Joshua five rounds to get his second-wind against Pulev. What younger heavyweight would give Joshua that much time to regroup?
Would Fury, Usyk, or Filip Hrgovic let Joshua regroup for five or six rounds the way Pulev did after he gassed out? It was obvious that Joshua had gassed out. Anyone could see it, but surprisingly, Pulev didn’t go after Joshua full bore to try and get him out of there.
Sure, Pulev did attack Joshua, but not in an all-out way that he needed to score a knockout.
Pulev let Joshua use a little bit of movement, and he gave up and let him reset at center ring. For a fighter with as much experience as Pulev had, it was odd to see him not going all out to try and score a knockout after AJ faded.
Hearn no longer willing to wait
Eddie Hearn is in a hurry to get Joshua in there with Fury, and it seems pretty obvious why he’s so urgent in wanting to make that right now.
Hearn realizes that Joshua is vulnerable now against anyone with any degree of talent, and he cannot afford to wait any longer for the Fury fight. He has to cash-out with the Fury fight now before Joshua gets knocked out again.
That’s arguably why Hearn doesn’t want Joshua to fight Usyk in 2021 because there’s too much risk there.
If Hearn had confidence in Joshua, he would have let him fight Usyk because it helps out one of his fighters. Usyk is with Matchroom Boxing as well, and it would be an in-house fight for him.
Hearn is betraying himself with the impatience that he’s showing for the Joshua vs. Fury fight. He knows that the boxing public wants to see Joshua face Usyk, Filip Hrgovic, Whyte, and Joe Joyce.
Those are all guys that present a huge risk to Joshua, and he could lose to some if not all of them. You got to figure that once Joshua gets knocked out again by another heavyweight, the pay-per-view buys for a fight between him and Fury will decline badly.