Hearn planning Joshua’s next fight after Klitschko retirement decision

By Boxing News - 08/03/2017 - Comments

Image: Hearn planning Joshua’s next fight after Klitschko retirement decision

By Scott Gilfoid: Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn sounded bummed out on Thursday in talking about Wladimir Klitschko’s decision to retire from boxing instead of continuing on for one last fight against Joshua. Having to fight Pulev instead of Klitschko is a huge buzz-kill for the 27-year-old Joshua. He doesn’t get a chance to show that he’s a better fighter than the one that was decked by Wladimir last April. It’s got to be tough for Joshua. Wladimir lost the fight, but ultimately came out of the fight with more respect from the boxing fans.

Hearn was counting on the 41-year-old Klitschko in giving Joshua a rematch, which he had planned on staging in Las Vegas, Nevada in November.

IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) is the next guy on the agenda for Joshua. Hearn wants to get that fight out of the way pronto.

“When the IBF cleared the Klitschko rematch it was under the proviso that if it’s not Klitschko it must be Pulev, so we’ve already got talks in place with Kalle Sauerland,” said Hearn to Sky Sports News.

Pulev, 36, earned the title shot against Joshua by beating Dereck Chisora by a 12 round split decision last year on May 7, 2016. Pulev has been waiting ever since for his mandatory title shot. He’s kept busy recently, beating journeyman Samuel Peter and Kevin Johnson in his last two fights. Pulev’s win over Johnson last April was an ugly affair, with a lot of rabbit punches thrown by Pulev in winning a 12 round unanimous decision in Sofia, Bulgaria. It’s surprising that Pulev wasn’t penalized for the fouling, because I lost track of all the times he nailed Johnson in the back of the head with punches. If Pulev does that to Joshua, we could see an upset if he knocks him out.

Pulev’s best wins have come against these fighters:

– Dereck Chisora

– Tony Thompson

– Alexander Ustinov

– Joey Abell

– Alexander Dimitrenko

– Michael Sprott

– Travis Walker

– Paolo Vidoz
– Derric Rossy

– Matt Skelton

Pulev, 6’4 ½”, has a nice power jab that he uses as his main weapon in his arsenal. Pulev likes to stand on the outside soften up his opponents with his hard jabs to the head. He then loads on right hands and tries to swat his opponents. Pulev’s right hand is nothing special. I don’t know why, but he lacks power with his right. When he does land it, his opponents are rarely fazed by it. Pulev usually misses with his right. It’s a slow punch that he telegraphs badly, making it easy for his opponents to get out of the way of it. When Pulev is in a clinch, he often roughs up his opponents. I guess he doesn’t like the idea of his opponents holding him. I can’t wait to see what Pulev does against Joshua if the two of them clinch. Does Pulev go rabbit punch hunting when gets Joshua in range or does he keep it clean.

Like Joshua, Pulev competed in the Olympics. He represented Bulgaria in the 2008 Olympics, but lost his first fight to Oscar Rivas from Colombia and was eliminated. Joshua won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, although it was a controversial medal. Many boxing fans thought Joshua was gifted the gold medal after winning several questionable matches against fighters that appeared to beat him.

Hearn says he thinks Wladimir chose to retire now because of the respect that he got for his performance against Joshua in their fight on April 29. Wladimir gave Joshua a great deal of problems before getting stopped in the 11th round. Hearn feels that he gained more respect from fans in losing to Joshua than he had in anything he’s done in his career. Sadly, that may be true. Wladimir’s resume as a pro is mighty thin in terms of big wins. Of course, you can say the same thing about Joshua, but he at least has a partial excuse given his young age at 27. If Joshua is still fighting into his 40s and has only his shaky win over a past his best Wladimir to show for it, then you can say that he gained more respect from that fight than anything else he’s don during his pro career. There’s nobody in the heavyweight division right now that will do much for Joshua if he beats them. He’s going to need to clean out the division, and then continue to pile up wins for another 10 years to get to where Wladimir was at. Can Joshua do this? I do not think so. I don’t see Joshua on top of the division in 3 years unless Hearn matches him with loving care, avoiding guys that could potentially knock him out like Deontay Wilder and Jarrell Miller.

“It’s unusual to bow out on a loss where you’ve probably gained more respect for that loss than you have for your entire career,” said Hearn n talking about Wladimir’s decision to retire from boxing rather than fight Joshua in a rematch. “I think that’s probably one of the driving factors that’s made him say ‘I’m going to bow out after an epic night,’” said Hearn.

Hearn is really bellyaching, isn’t he? Get over it already. Wladimir retired. He took his marbles and went home and doesn’t want to play anymore. Joshua and Hearn are just going to have to live with it. Hearn can keep blabbering about why Wladimir did it, but he’ll never know for sure. Hearn can guess, but he’ll never know the real reason. Personally, I think Wladimir lost his love for boxing after his trainer Emanuel Steward passed away in 2012. Wladimir wasn’t the same fighter after Steward died in my opinion. Where was Joshua when Steward was still training Wladimir? Why didn’t Joshua fight Wladimir in 2011 or 2012? Why did Joshua wait until Wladimir was 41 to fight him? Those are questions I’d like to know.

Hearn sounds like he’s not entirely happy that Wladimir retired without fighting Joshua again. Wladimir owes nothing to Joshua for him to have to fight him again. Yeah, it’s unusual for fighters to retire after gaining a ton of respect for exposing someone that was as heavily hyped as Joshua, but Wladimir is quite wealthy and he’s about to turn 42-years-old. When Joshua is 41, let’s see how eager he is to keep fighting after he’s no longer the same fighter he is now, and after he’s made a pile of money. I honestly cannot see Joshua going anywhere near the ring when he’s 41. If Joshua is still fighting at 41, I don’t see him being a top fighter like Wladimir was. Heck, I don’t see Joshua as a top fighter when he’s 35. The heavyweight division is continually adding new fighters year by year, and these guys are capable of fighting hard without gassing out like Joshua did against Klitschko last April.

If Hearn wants Joshua to create some kind of legacy, he’s going to need to do it against someone else besides Klitschko, because that fight is now no longer reality. The good news is that Joshua can get Pulev out of the way, and then move onto the unification fights against Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker. Joshua supposedly wants to fight those guys. Will Hearn make those fights or will he slow up the process by matching Joshua against some more soft targets like Tony Bellew, who he also promotes. Light heavyweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward wants a title shot against Joshua. Will Hearn slip in Ward and Bellew fights before he puts Joshua in with Wilder and Parker? I wouldn’t be surprised.