By: Sean Crose
It will be over a full year since he was last in the ring, but Anthony Joshua, the unified heavyweight champion of the world, will return to the fight game to face longstanding contender Kubrat Pulev on December 12 at England’s O2 Arena. Boasting a record of 23-1, Joshua will be defending his IBF, WBA and WBO titles. Pulev, who boasts a record of 28-1, will be fighting for a world championship for the second time. Pulev came up short against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 in his first attempt at a world title. He ended up being knocked out by the long reigning Klitschko in the fifth round.
Joshua too has suffered a single loss in grand fashion. The Englishman’s 2019 American debut turned into a disaster when he was dethroned by Andy Ruiz by 7th round TKO at Madison Square Garden. Joshua, of course, went on to redeem himself in grand fashion by smartly outboxing Ruiz en route to a unanimous decision win in Saudi Arabia the following December. With his titles back in his possession, the man known as AJ looked ready to move forward.
Then, of course, came Covid-19, and the virtual shutdown of the boxing business. The official announcement of the Joshua-Pulev match was a long time coming. Now that the bout has been made official, the questions can turn to how Joshua will carry himself when he re-enters the ring…and if Pulev can pull off a major upset. Joshua went from being a heavy puncher to a slick boxer between his loss to Ruiz and his victory in the rematch roughly six months later. It will be interesting to say how he carries himself against Pulev.
As for the challenger – he was wiped out by Klitschko, but that was over five years ago. What’s more, he hasn’t lost a single match since. Add that to the fact that Joshua has been proven to be human by Ruiz and it becomes difficult to write the Bulgarian vet off. Still, at 39 years of age, it would be nothing less than a stunning upset should Pulev pull out the win.
Should Johsua emerge victorious as expected this December, a major superfight with Tyson Fury appears to loom on the horizon.
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