Kubrat Pulev: A punchers chance?
Background: Let’s cut to the chase. Pulev has, to use an 80’s phrase “Less than Zero,” chance of beating Joshua via decision. British ‘justice’ which may in main, hold in UK courts, hasn’t applied to boxing for years. If you’re a Brit fighting on UK soil and you and your foreign opponent are on somewhat equal terms, you win. And sometimes you win by decision even if you’ve lost virtually every round.
What I find shocking is that non-UK fighters are so willing to fight there unconditionally. You’d think they’d at least say: “I’ve got no chance other than a KO,” to, you know – call attention to the rigged deck.
Pulev has to go for a stoppage to win, and when he was at his ‘peak,’ and aggressive vs. Vlad Klitschko, Klitschko used that aggression against the Bulgarian. Along with a lot of illegal and continuous shoving, Klitschko both came forward and countered Pulev into a swift, bleeding end.
Klitschko, a common opponent to both, was kayoed by Joshua. Yikes.
AJ is at his best is coming forward but obviously is also an effective counter-puncher. Pulev is very skilled, quick and is a truly outstanding combination puncher.
Pulev fights very upright, and loves to fight with his hands down which would seem to doom him against Joshua’s longer, very fast punches.
Also note that Pulev’s KO record indicates he is less powerful than stated. At 39 he is, or is becoming, ancient. Is there any conceivable way he can win? Yes, but let’s first look at the grades:
Fighter’s Grades: (Speed, Power, Defense, Reach, Age, Stamina, Experience)
Anthony Joshua: A A B- A, B- B+ B+ (Average of all) B+ (3.4)
Kubrat Pulev: B B- B B C-, B, B+ (Average of all) B- (2.8)
Reality Check: Eddie Hearn, after AJ-Ruiz 1, will NEVER let Ant fight again without all possible advantages. Which is his job, I guess. For God’s sake, Joshua is a guy who has said he never wants to fight outside the UK! I doubt he ever will again.
Joshua’s surreal and to many, impossible muscles were of little help in his first-ever loss against Ruiz. Long before the off, something was radically wrong with Joshua, at least mentally. In the rematch Joshua had a new physique, weighed ten pounds less and was told to box at a distance. Ruiz’s pathetic conditioning meant he lost on the scales, yet still was able to trap and very nearly nail AJ. Had he done so, he would have won; you could see the panic in Joshua during Ruiz’s singular good moment in the rematch. To his credit, Joshua narrowly got himself out of harm’s way.
If the leaner Joshua shows up on the night, Pulev, with his awkward style, good power and size has a combination puncher’s chance. If the muscleman version of AJ with the extraordinary explosiveness is on tap, Pulev should reserve a spot on the mat for the inevitable KO.
Whichever Joshua shows up, Pulev may as well go for broke. He’ll have at least two judges predisposed against.
I apologize I don’t know that much about Deon Dwarte, the referee said to be South Africa’s ‘best.’ (Maybe Maxboxing Editor John Raspanti does – if so John, please insert your thoughts. ED note: Dwarte,51, a former amatuer boxer, is very experienced. He’s the second South African to referee a heavyweight championship fight. Dwarte has worked as a judge and the third man in the ring for over 100 fights since his career began in 1998)
Ref favoritism – say Pulev hurts his Watford-born opponent and the Ref bails him out – is a huge concern, too.
Fight and Prediction: Joshua, who can be an excellent jabber, might swell Pulev’s face at range, bide his time and stop him. Or, equally, he might win a routine decision and post-fight, talk about winding down his career.
Given that who knows how removed 39 year old Pulev is from his prime and that Joshua is a poor stylistic match for him, AND…the home-cooking advantages A.J. will enjoy, it’s duh- the Brit’s fight to lose.
I’m betting he won’t.
Joshua TKO Pulev 8