Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua retains titles with emphatic knockout over Kubrat Pulev
The pressure was on and Anthony Joshua came through in a big way.
With a big-money heavyweight title fight with WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury hanging in the balance, Joshua had to win Saturday night at Wembley Arena in London, Eng.
Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) did it in an emphatic way, retaining his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight world titles by knocking out tough Kubrat Pulev in round nine before an enthusiastic crowd of 1,000 boxing fans.
In the opening stanza, both heavyweights showed plenty of respect. Mandatory challenger Pulev went to the body with a few jabs. Joshua returned the favor. A lone right hand missed. Joshua, 31, bounced on his toes in round two- looking to uncork his right.
Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) was just looking. A min in, Joshua, a couple of inches taller at six foot six, fired a combination. Perhaps one of the punches landed. Joshua kept popping his long jab. Pulev was inching closer and even smiled at Joshua. The champion had banked the first two rounds.
Round three was more of the same. Joshua controlled the action. A minute in the heat, he slipped a Pulev left, and fired a clean right hand that knocked Pulev into the ropes. He turned his back which counted as a knockdown. Seconds later a vicious uppercut sent Pulev down for a second time. He got up and survived to hear the bell. Joshua went back to jabbing in round four. He landed another right. Pulev,39, fought back with his own shot. Joshua absorbed it well.
In round five, Joshua landed a sweeping left hook. Pulev, a native of Bulgaria, was trying to land a game-changing blow. Joshua was fighting well defensively. A good one-two snapped Pulev’s head back. Pulev connected with a right. Joshua jabbed to the body. Pulev tried to be more aggressive in round six by throwing more punches. He landed a jarring left jab. Joshua went to the head and body. He let go with a hook that glanced off Pulev’s head. Joshua’s jab continued to be on point.
Joshua was well ahead after six rounds. The question was would he knock out Pulev? Joshua went back to work in round seven. He connected with an uppercut. And seconds later, three more. The gutsy Pulev stayed upright and near the end of the round, connected with a reaching right.
Pulev connected with a solid right hook in round eight. Joshua pumped his jab up and down. Pulev pressed the action. Joshua missed an uppercut and stayed disciplined. Joshua was jabbing in round nine. Pulev missed with a right.
Joshua pumped his left and followed it with a left hook. He stepped inside, and connected with four uppercuts. Pulev somehow took them. Less than a minute later, three more uppercuts put Pulev down. He was hurt and no longer smiling. He got up and wobbled. The referee allowed the fight to continue. It ended seconds later as a perfect Joshua right put Pulev on his back. He bravely tried to get up, but could not.
Time was 2:58 seconds into round nine.
“Boxing is about less talk and more action,” said Joshua. “I did my thing. Thank you very much.”