I always get a little excited when Anthony Joshua fights are just around the corner. I have a huge amounts of respect for this guy because he got me back into boxing and he got many others back into boxing. It’s all down to him and to Matchroom Boxing, because AJ has provided many great performances and top knockouts, while Matchroom boxing have always ensured there is a good undercard before him.
On the 28th October there is another AJ fight up as he looks to retain his IBF, IBO and WBA (Super) belts against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Joshua is 19-0-0, Pulev is 25-0-1 and on paper it looks like a close matchup that could go either way.
In reality, however, this is a one-sided fight that should result in the champion holding onto his belts and looking forward to a big and productive 2018. But there is money to be made from betting on this one, so when and how will he get the win?
This with is taking place in the Principality Stadium in Wales. Tickets may still be available as it’s probably not going to be an immediate sellout like the Joshua vs Klitschko fight, but he’s still a big name and this is still a title fight, so expect to see them sold out closer to the time.
It’s close to home soil for the champion who will get plenty of support from the locals as well as from the many fans traveling across the UK. Pulev will have to put up with a partisan crowd just like another old boy, Klitschko did when fighting AJ at Wembley. Still, he’s an experienced fighter and he’s also from Bulgaria, which rarely plays host to big fights, so I’m sure he is used to it.
The fight will be shown on Sky Box Office in the United Kingdom and it is also likely to be a Pay-Per-View event elsewhere, costing around £17 or $20 to $25.
What can I say about Joshua that I haven’t already said? This guy is a legend in the making and one I have been following him closely since the beginning. In fact, I bought a pair of signed gloves by AJ when he had only notched a couple of undercard victories. Back then, everyone looked at those gloves, saw the signature and asked who he was, before giving me a blank stare when I told him. Now they all notice them and the look is a little more envious.
AJ’s rise has been meteoric and while he still has his detractors, you can’t argue with the excitement he has injected back into British boxing. You also can’t knock him for the opponents he has fought. I mean, many have done just that, but it’s hard to criticize someone who won his first world title within a couple years of his pro debut and someone who managed to knockout one of the greatest boxers of the last generation.
Joshua has a big future ahead and next year he will likely test his unbeaten record against Wilder’s in a fight that should be the biggest contest since Tyson met Lewis. Before then, there are a few small stepping stones that he needs to cross in order to fulfill his duties as a champion and this is one.
Pulled deserves to be where he is, don’t get me wrong. But I wouldn’t even put him on a list of the top 5 heavyweights in the world right now and he should be one of the weaker challengers that Joshua will face in his career. AJ has the ability to play with him, but he also needs to be careful, because in boxing it is still possible to catch a punch that turns the fight on its head and ends your career in an instant. Fighters like Pulev are more than capable of throwing punches like that.
Known as The Cobra, Pulev is a 36 year old Bulgarian fighter who has been around the block and has been in the ring with may top heavyweights. He only has one loss to his name but that came in a 2014 contest against Klitschko. The Ukrainian beat him within 5 rounds, which tells you something considering that Joshua knocked Klitschko out a few years later.
Judging contests based on how the two fighters have performed in the same match-ups doesn’t tell the whole story, but it certainly gives you a good idea and there are more such contests to look at. For instance, in 2013 Pulev took Kevin Johnson the distance and struggled to get him on the canvas, only winning by a decision.
Joshua, on the other hand, beat him within 2 rounds and actually had him beat by the end of the first. In other words, Joshua possesses much more power and is a better finisher. There is no one in the heavyweight division like Joshua right now, no one who can end fights when they want to and give the crowd what they want.
The problem that Pulev has is that he will need to absorb a lot of damage if he is to stand a chance at winning this. We know that AJ can punch himself out and leave himself exposed, because he did that against Klitschko and left many fans (myself included) with hearts in mouth. Pulev needs to do the same thing if he stands a chance, but that means taking all that Joshua can throw at him and staying on his feet.
He has a good chin, but he’s also a 36 year old who has taken a lot of big hits in his time and that will surely be too much for him. I do get the impression that AJ will ease off and won’t go for the kill like he did early on against Klitschko, simply because he won’t want to be in that position again. But even if he takes it easy there will still be big punches landed and it’ll be very hard for Pulev to remain upright.
Obviously Anthony Joshua has got this one. I have a feeling that it will be one of his better fights and one of his closer fights, but not quite as close as Klitschko and maybe not even as close as his fight against Whyte. I foresee this being like the Joshua vs Breazeale fight. In other words, Joshua will pummel him for several rounds, weakening him and waiting for his chance, before finishing it off in the middle rounds.
So, get your money on a Joshua win in rounds 5 to 8. If you want to take more of a risk and get the big odds, stick your money on round 7, which returns odds of 8.00.
As always, there is a big undercard for this fight. This might change as the date gets closer, fighters get injured and are swapped out, but right now there are a few big fights that are looking certain. One of these is David Allen, who seemed to have talked himself onto the biggest stage, but then displayed the skills that proves he deserves to be here.
He is a fighter who might be able to go the distance with Joshua, but only because he has an unbreakable chin and determination. He should have an easy time of it against Lenroy Thomas and I expect a late knockout for him. Liam Williams will be facing Liam Smith, with a decision likely and with Williams probably taking it; Katie Taylor is set for another fight, another big display and another early knockout against Anahi Sanchez; and Khalid Yafai should do much the same against Sho Ishida.
Betting Tip: Joshua Rounds 5 to 8, 2.30 @ SkyBet