Kubrat Pulev stops Bogdan Dinu in bloody affair
By Max Warren at ringside
Kubrat Pulev (27-1, 14KOs) knocked out Bogdan Dinu (18-2, 14KOs) in the 6th, but faced a lot of adversity in the process. A nasty deep cut opened up over Pulev’s left eye after Dinu successfully landed a series of powerful rights in the 4th. After Pulev clearly won the opening three rounds with his imposing jab and overhand right, the tide shifted in Dinu’s favor when he began to push the pace and back Pulev into the ropes multiple times. Dinu landed many powerful shots to the body, leaving the former world title challenger frustrated.
At that moment, it appeared Dinu could even stop Pulev. Pulev was the #1 contender for Anthony Joshua’s IBF heavyweight world title going into the fight, and a loss would have forfeited the potential title shot.
The severe cut and tough fourth round served as motivation for Pulev, who suddenly was more aggressive and began varying his attack. At the beginning of the fight, Pulev was primarily throwing a jab and overhand right. When round 5 came, he suddenly began working the body and disrupted Dinu’s attack. Dinu wilted away and for the remainder of the night, he failed to display anything remotely close to what he showed in the 4th. He started to tire, and Pulev hurt him with several jabs and overhand rights that landed from many angles that confused Dinu.
In the 7th, Pulev trapped Dinu in the corner, and Dinu crumbled to the floor after Pulev landed several right hands. As Dinu started sinking down to the canvas, a right hand hit Dinu on the back of the head, near the neck. Referee Raul Caiz Sr. decided to rule it an official knockdown, but allowed Dinu sufficient time to recover from the blow to the back of the head. Caiz Sr. told the judges to acknowledge the knockdown, but to deduct a point from Pulev for the illegal blow.
The decision by Caiz Sr. made perfect sense, since the knockdown itself was not a direct result of the illegal blow. The foul occurred as Dinu was about to hit the canvas.
Even with the advantage of the point deduction and extra time to recuperate from the blow, Dinu’s earlier momentum was gone. Pulev was angry following the point deduction and wanted revenge following Dinu’s success in the 4th. It was evident he wanted a knockout. Pulev immediately pounced on his opponent, throwing several jabs and overhand rights. Dinu had no answer for the offensive, and was knocked down once again by Pulev’s powerful right hand.
Dinu barely stood up before the referee’s ten count, and all hope vanished. Once he got up, he was hit by yet another plethora of right hands from Pulev, and was put on the canvas for the third and final time. The official time of the knockout was 2:40 of the 7th.
The Bulgarian came back from adversity in the fourth round, displaying heart and resiliency that nobody had seen from him before. A win like this is far more revealing of a fighter’s ability than an impressive early knockout. Boxing observers now know that Pulev can ignite a mean streak and come back from a bad cut. Dinu landed several power punches in the 4th, and had Pulev hurt. The adverse conditions sparked Pulev to utilize more of his arsenal, fighting on the inside and going to the body. Before the 4th, Pulev wasn’t throwing to the body or roughing up his opponent on the inside. By Pulev varying his attack, Dinu’s stamina depleted and his offensive output diminished.
Pulev’s performance merits a title shot, and he’s currently on a seven-fight win streak. Both Pulev and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury fight under the Top Rank banner, and a match-up between them is highly likely for later this year. Fury fights Tom Schwarz on June 15th in Las Vegas in the first fight on his new deal with ESPN and Top Rank. According to most boxing experts, the fight is viewed as a lay-up for Fury.
In the meantime, Pulev could face Oscar Rivas next. As an Olympian representing Bulgaria at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Pulev lost a decision to Rivas. Pulev mentioned that he wants to avenge the loss from the Olympics and had even told Top Rank, Inc. that it was a fight he desired. Whether Pulev faces Rivas or Fury next, he has clearly demonstrated he is deserving of a title opportunity. He has come back strong following his 2014 loss to Klitschko, in which many questioned his chin and ability. If Pulev faces any of the current champions at heavyweight, it will be viewed as a tough competitive fight for the respective belt-holder.