By: Hans Themistode
A crowd of one thousand fans stood on their feet and cheered as unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua placed the finishing touches on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. After dropping his man twice in the third, Joshua closed the show in the ninth round at Wembley Arena.
Amongst the cheering fans who were thrilled with his performance was future hall of famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. As the two embraced afterward, Mayweather appeared to be congratulating him on his performance. But while Mayweather and the crowd tipped their cap to Joshua, promoter Bob Arum sat stone-faced in his palatial estate, unimpressed.
“No, goodness no,” said Arum immediately following Joshua’s victory when asked if he was impressed. “He was tentative and didn’t really show the ability to get away from a punch. He was a little better than ordinary. That’s the truth, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. He didn’t appear to pose any kind of problem for Tyson Fury.”
For months now, Arum claimed that Joshua would end up flat on his back when the two met in the ring. Arum’s assumptions, by and large, were true, just for the wrong fighter. Joshua pummeled Pulev and quickly ended any dreams of the 39-year-old becoming a world champion. His performance though, was mediocre at best according to Arum. The fact of the matter is, it wasn’t what Joshua did do, but more so what Pulev didn’t.
“Well, Joshua was clearly the better man. Kubrat couldn’t pull the trigger. He landed a couple of good shots but he couldn’t follow up and Joshua got him out of there. But I don’t think it was a particularly stellar performance by Anthony Joshua but it was good enough to get the win by stoppage.”
Joshua’s win, while heavily picked apart by Arum, did place a smile on the 89-year-old promoter’s face. The victory served as the final hurdle before an all-British heavyweight showdown between Joshua and WBC/Ring magazine belt holder Tyson Fury.
With the 39-year-old Pulev now out of the way, Joshua has effectively cleaned up his side of the street. As for Fury, he appeared to be entrenched in a messy legal battle with former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder. The two fought to a split draw in 2018 before Fury laid out the surly big man earlier this year. Fury was contractually bound to Wilder for a third contest, something that the former belt holder enacted immediately. However, due to numerous postponements for various reasons, their contract has reportedly expired.
Despite that, it hasn’t stopped Wilder from attempting to secure their trilogy. His attempt to legally enforce anything regarded Fury however, is extraneous.
“The contract has run out. It’s clear that it expired sometime in October.”
Deals for fights of this magnitude tend to linger and protract for long periods of time. In this case, Arum is expecting a quick and easy negotiation. The long time promoter has already scheduled a phone call with fellow promoter Eddie Hearn and has put together the framework of what would be a two-fight deal.
“I think we talk on Monday. It would be a 50/50 deal. The first fight is 50/50 and then the winner on the second fight gets 60%.”