Joshua: I’ll show Pulev I’m the bully inside the ring
By Scott Gilfoid: Unbeaten heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua says he wants to score his 20th consecutive knockout when he defends his IBF/WBA titles against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) in their fight on October 28 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Joshua, 27, wants to show off his talent o the boxing fans that come see him and the ones at home that order the fight on Sky Box Office pay-per-view. I haven’t heard anything about Showtime planning on televising the Joshua vs. Pulev fight in the States.
It would be in Showtime’s best interest to make sure they focus on televising Joshua’s fights in the U.S when he faces quality opponents that have a chance of beating him. I don’t know if you can put Pulev in the category of someone with a reasonable chance of defeating the 6’5” Joshua. Pulev, 36, isn’t a power puncher. He’s a guy that wins by using his jab and staying on the outside against mostly smaller fighters than himself. Pulev has beaten some big fighters during his career in 6’5” Tony Thompson, 6’7” Alexander Dimitrenko and 6’7 ½” Alexander Ustinov.
Those weren’t big punchers though. Pulev was knocked out in 5 rounds by the 6’6” Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Joshua says Pulev had Wladimir going in that fight. I didn’t see that. I saw Pulev land a good shot at one time in the fight, but Wladimir was hardly hurt and ready to be knocked out. Joshua must be imagining things if he believes Wladimir was on the verge of being knocked out by Pulev, because it didn’t happen in the fight that I saw.
I’ve watched Klitschko vs. Pulev several times, and I never saw Wladimir on the verge of being knocked out. I did see Joshua on the verge of being stopped by Wladimir in round 6 in their fight on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. I saw Joshua get knocked down by Wladimir in round 6. I also saw a very tired looking Joshua failing to recover from gassing out for 3 rounds until the 10th.
“He had Wladimir going at one stage when he fought him and people forget that,” Joshua said to Sky Sports News. “I think he matches jab for jab and leans back in the eastern European style. I’ll have to show him I’m the bully in the ring, and I’m the king of boxing.”
Joshua has a good blueprint to follow in how to beat Pulev. All Joshua has to do is watch Wladimir’s 5th round knockout win over Pulev from 2014 to know how to beat him. Wladimir was able to take advantage of Pulev by hitting him with left hooks each time he would come forward looking to land his right hands. Pulev was knocked down repeatedly when he would try and engage with Klitschko. That was a perfect example of how to beat Pulev. He’s a sucker for a left hook. However, Joshua doesn’t have a great left hook. He’s more of a right hand guy to get his knockouts. That’s probably why Joshua is talking about wanting to go after Pulev and “bully” him inside the ring. Things sometimes aren’t as easy as they appear to be though. Just because a talent like Wladimir was able to make Pulev look like a rank amateur doesn’t mean that Joshua will be able to do the same thing against the Bulgarian fighter.
Wladimir clearly was blessed with more talent than Joshua. We saw that loud and clear when the 2 Olympic gold medalists were inside the ring on April 29 in London. Wladimir was faster, stronger, more mobile and the better fighter defensively. Wladimir was simply an all-around better fighter than Joshua. The only things Joshua had going for him is hometown advantage, youth and the fact that Wladimir had decided he wasn’t going to try and finish him off after he had him gassed and hurt in the 6th.
Joshua, 27, may come undone when he gets inside the ring with Pulev. Yeah, Wladimir made it look easy in beating Pulev, but that was a more talented fighter than Joshua. Wladimir was still in the tail end of his prime at 34 when he fought Pulev. Joshua is just a big guy with a lot of muscles who hits hard, and always fights at home in the UK. As such, Joshua might not be able to do what Wladimir did to Pulev. I’ve seen a lot of Pulev’s past fights, and he throws a mean clubbing right hand.
For some reason, Pulev usually badly misses when he throws his right hand bombs, but when he does land it cleanly, he hurts his opponents. If Pulev is able to land one of his right hand shots against Joshua, he would stun him and knock him down or out. Joshua has tasted the canvas before against Klitschko. I imagine the shot that Wladimir hit Joshua with must have hurt some, because it put him down. If that punch shook something loose in Joshua, Pulev could take advantage of it when he gets him inside the ring on October 28 and finish the job that Wladimir started. I mean, Joshua can blabber all he wants about being a “bully” inside the ring with Pulev, but it’s sometimes not as easy as you think it’ll be. Pulev has only lost once and that was to a very good fighter in Klitschko. Pule is he more technical fighter than Joshua with the far more advanced amateur career in Bulgaria.
Like Joshua, Pulev has Olympic credentials. He fought in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, and he was eliminated in his first match by Oscar Rivas of Colombia in losing by an 11-5 score. Joshua won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, but it was a controversial medal win for him, as he appeared to lose 3 of his fights in the competition in the view of a lot of boxing fans.
Pulev is a very good fighter, especially against guys that aren’t sound in terms of their boxing skills. If Joshua bum rushes Pulev like an amateur, he could run into something or wind up getting jabbed all night long. Pulev has an excellent jab that he throws like a power punch. The jab that Pulev throws is one of the best in the heavyweight division. The only guy with a better jab than Pulev is Wladimir, and he’s retired. If Joshua gets into a jabbing contest with Pulev, he might wind up with cut up eyes and a swollen face. I think Joshua would be better to try and go after Pulev as soon as he can in the fight before the Bulgarian fighter starts jabbing him to pieces.
”I’d like to secure my 20th victory with my 20th knockout,” said Joshua.
It’s a mistake for Joshua to be focusing on trying to add to his statistics by going after a knockout just for the sake of his record. That’s dumb. When a fighter starts focusing on beating guys by knockouts in order to make their resume look pretty, that’s when they get beat. Joshua should realize that his knockout record and his unbeaten streak isn’t going to last forever. We just saw that in his last fight against Wladimir. Joshua doesn’t have the kind of talent to finish his career with a 51-0 with 51 knockout record. I don’t care how carefully Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn matches him, he’s going to end up getting knocked out sooner or later well before he breaks Floyd Mayweather’s Jr’s tainted 50-0 record. Instead of Joshua thinking about superficial accomplishments like adding another knockout to his resume, he should just think about boxing a good fight against Pulev, and using the match to learn something that he can use to help him down the road. If all Joshua is thinking is how he bum rush Pulev and knock him out as fast as he can, he’s not going to improve as a fighter.
Joshua needs to improve his game on many levels starting with his horrible stamina. Joshua has got to be able to fight hard for more than 1 round without gassing out and then needing 3 to 4 rounds of rest in order to recover. If Joshua can’t fight hard without gassing for one-quarter of his fights, he’s not going to keep his precious unbeaten record for long. The first heavyweight that pushes Joshua hard at a fast pace will end up knocking him out. I don’t know if that’s going to be Pulev though, but it could be. You never know. If not Pulev, then the winner of the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz fight could be the guy that ends Joshua’s winning streak and sends him back into the contender ranks. There’s also a very talented contender by the name of Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller that is moving up quickly, and he sees a lot of weakness in Joshua. But perhaps the fighter of all could be Joe Joyce, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Great Britain. This guy looks like he could be the real deal to take over the heavyweight division by 2018. I expect Joyce to be a world champion by next year no matter who he faces. He’s got the skills for the pro game, and I think he would be a real nightmare for Joshua, given his stamina problems.
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- Artur Beterbiev vs. Meng Fanlong on September 25 on ESPN+
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