Three of boxing’s four major Heavyweight titles will be on the line this Saturday (Dec. 12, 2020) when Anthony Joshua defends his newly returned collection against mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE coverage of the main event below. The DAZN broadcast kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, with Joshua and Pulev likely to make the walk closer to 5 p.m. ET.
In the co-feature, fast-rising cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie takes on unbeaten late replacement Nikodem Jezewski. Okolie had been tabbed to face former champion Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight belt, but the latter’s bout with COVID-19 forced his countryman to step in on a week’s notice. The card also features another pair of Heavyweight tussles. In one, Hughie Fury looks to make it 2-0 in 2020 against towering veteran Mariusz Wach, while the other sees once-beaten up-and-comers Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin throw down.
All eyes are on the main event, ours included. Let’s have a look ...
Anthony “AJ” Joshua
Record: 23-1 (21 KO)
Last Five Fights: Andy Ruiz Jr. (UD), Andy Ruiz Jr. (TKO-7 Loss), Alexander Povetkin (TKO-7), Joseph Parker (UD), Carlos Takam (TKO-10)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Wladimir Klitschko, Dominic Breazeale, Charles Martin, Dillian Whyte
Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev
Record: 28-1 (14 KO)
Last Five Fights: Rydell Booker (UD), Bogdan Dinu (KO-7), Hughie Fury (UD), Kevin Johnson (UD), Sam Peter (RTD-3)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Dereck Chisora, Tony Thompson, Alexander Ustinov, Alexander Dimitrenko
This isn’t the first time these two have planned to lace ‘em up. Joshua — freshly removed from a career-best knockout of Wladimir Klitschko — was all set to meet Pulev in 2017 before the Bulgarian pulled out with a shoulder injury, leaving “AJ” to beat Carlos Takam instead. Then came a June 20, 2020, date that COVID-19 merrily demolished.
Unfortunately, the saga that led to this match up is probably more interesting than the match up itself.
Don’t get me wrong ... Pulev is by no means a bad heavyweight, just one who lacks the tools necessary to trouble Joshua. He’s got reasonably fast hands, but they’re not Andy Ruiz fast, and his combination punching isn’t sufficient to compensate for Joshua’s enormous edge in power. Worse, Joshua’s got height and reach advantages, both of which he knows how to use, and is the younger man by a fair margin.
Pulev’s own lack of stopping power means he’ll need a decision, and that means not only overcoming the aforementioned disadvantages for seven of 12 rounds, but doing so by a large enough margin to offset Joshua’s more visually impressive offense and status as the A-side. That would be hard enough if Pulev could reliably stand up to Joshua’s power, which is far from a given (Klitschko dropped Pulev seemingly every time he landed his left hook).
I don’t see a 39-year-old Pulev successfully walking that tightrope. He’s still got enough to keep it competitive, but expect Joshua to find the mark with something big well before the championship rounds.
Prediction: Joshua via fifth-round knockout
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