Anthony Joshua remain the heavyweight world champion after knocking out Pulev On ninth rounds of the Fight.
Unable to finish Pulev, Joshua went back into autopilot and broke his opponent down with the jab, including a bigger focus to the body. Although he rarely took chances, Joshua never put himself in much danger either save for a pair of nice right hands Pulev hit in Round 8 which Joshua took well.
Things finally began to fall apart for good in Round 9 for Pulev as a trio of uppercuts forced him to take a knee to avoid being stopped. After beating the count, Pulev rose and Joshua used his jab to set up a perfect right cross from distance which floored Pulev again.
Even though he was able to make it to his feet, Pulev was on shaky ground and the fight was stopped at 2:58.
Joshua was asked afterwards whether he would seek an undisputed championship fight in 2021 against WBC and lineal titleholder Tyson Fury, and the unified titleholder appeared game despite a somewhat cryptic answer.
“You ask the crowd what they want to see. I am up for anything,” Joshua said. “That’s [promoter] Eddie Hearn’s job. I started this game in 2013, I have been chasing the belts and fulfilling the mandatories. Of course I want the belts. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. There’s no big deal. It’s on to my next fight, I don’t care about anything else. I have to stay focused.”
Both fighters each have one more mandatory opponent to face first as Joshua is due to fight former cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and Fury owes a fight to the winner of the Alexander Povetkin-Dillian Whyte rematch.
There is a possibility one or both fighters could vacate their title to avoid the mandatory opponent, although that would remove the spectacle of Joshua-Fury being an undisputed title fight for all four recognized belts.
“It’s the only fight to be made in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in British boxing history,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn said after the fight. “For me, it’s less talk and more action. We know what we want to do so let’s do it.”
Top Rank’s Bob Arum, the co-promoter of Fury, told Sports Illustrated after the fight he is “absolutely confident” a deal can be made and stressed that the framework for one was already in place.
Fury, who has been rumored to be close to signing a comeback fight against a softer opponent, immediately tweeted after Joshua’s win that he is ready for the super fight next and predicted he would win by knockout inside of three rounds.
The loss for Pulev snapped an eight-fight win streak since his 2014 defeat to then unified champion Wladimir Klitschko by knockout.
Elsewhere on the card, Lawrence Okolie smashed Nikodem Jezewski for a second-round stoppage to claim the WBO international cruiserweight title. The Brit is getting closer to a bigger fight in the 200-pound division. Plus, Hughie Fury handled Mariusz Wach with easy for a unanimous decision. The 26-year old has won four of his last five with the lone loss coming to Alexander Povetkin.
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday, following along with the results and highlights provided below.
Fight card, results
- Anthony Joshua (c) def. Kubrat Pulev via ninth-round TKO to retain IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight championship
- Lawrence Okolie def. Nikodem Jezewski via second-round TKO
- Hughie Fury def. Mariusz Wach via unanimous decision (100-90,100-90, 99-91)
- Martin Bakole def. Sergey Kuzmin via unanimous decision (98-92, 97-93, 96-94)
- Kieron Conway def. Macaulay McGowan via unanimous decision (100-90, 100-89, 100-89)
- Florian Marku and Jamie Stewart fought to a draw