Boxing Heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua will face challenger, Kubrat Pulev on Saturday night, December 12, 2020, and the win is necessary for Joshua to engage in an undisputed heavyweight title clash with Tyson Fury in 2021, to determine the true king of the heavyweight division.
Joshua’s last fight was in December 2019, but he is very much aware of the strong test that awaits him on Saturday at the Wembley Arena.
“In terms of the time I’ve had off, I’ve had to toughen myself up again and get used to taking punches to the head and body and getting my hands strong again, and just getting myself prepared for a tough fight on December 12,” Joshua told William Hill.
“Pulev’s experienced. He’s 39 now. What I’ve learnt from facing experienced fighters such as Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko is that they can still be lively and do a lot of damage. At that age, the last thing you lose as a heavyweight is your power. He’s got that power.
“I’ve noticed from the analysis that he’s dropped a few guys with the jab. He’s very balanced so if you attack him and you’re not balanced then you can fall into his range. I’ve got to make sure that my attacks are spot on because he’s very good at punching opponents who make mistakes.
“He’s well experienced as well and has been in there (the ring) with good fighters. He’s got two other things: good work rate, where he’s used to going 12 rounds, and the last thing is he’s got a really good body shot as well.”
Ahead of the Saturday fight, some boxers have come out to give their predictions.
Dillian Whyte, who famously lost to Joshua in 2015 told SkyBet: “You know what? It is a run-out for Joshua.
“He’s just had two hard fights back to back, emotionally more than physically.
“So smart business, the Pulev fight. Pulev is old now and he was never really great in his heyday.
“He [Joshua] is happy to take care of his mandatory duties. So it’s a keep-busy fight.”
Ex-Heavyweight Champion David Haye told Sky: “I definitely think it’s a good fight for AJ.
“Big, Eastern-European guy who stands up straight, very tall, very strong, only ever lost to Klitschko.
“And in that fight he had a good go against Klitschko. So he’s got the power to cause some issues for people.
“He’s a rough tough guy that AJ will need to be in his best form for.
“But, if he is, I think he wipes the floor with Pulev. I think he’s significantly better.”
Former world Champion Chris Eubank Sr told the Express: “There are a few important variables that are important in this fight.
“Firstly, the way each fighter internalises this pandemic is an issue on top of what the fighters already have to manage.
“So much already depends upon this fight; the COVID factor adds an extra dimension to what in isolation is always harrowing.
“All things being normal, AJ has the better boxing IQ as proven in his contest against Andy Ruiz Jr, in a rematch I couldn’t see him winning because I thought he would try to use his power.
“Instead, he used his boxing IQ and took the championship titles back in impressive boxing form. If all is normal then AJ is no doubt the favourite.
“But because nothing is normal in these peculiar times, I suspect Pulev might win this fight and if I were a betting man, which I’m not, that’s where my money would be.”
Ex-Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker told SecondsOut: “I know Pulev will come game, that’s a fight he’s wanted for a while.
“But Joshua, we’ve seen him come back from losing to Andy Ruiz and putting on a good display of boxing.
“I think he’ll just be too quick and too experienced.”
Pulev’s promoter Bob Arum, who also doubles as Tyson Fury’s promoter told the Gary Newbon Sports Show: “I’m involved with everybody, including Eddie [Hearn].
“I said ‘don’t make plans so quick for a Fury-Joshua fight because I think Pulev is going to beat Joshua.’
“Let me explain my theory. Joshua got knocked out by Andy Ruiz, who is not a puncher, never been a puncher, and I know that because thirty odd fights that Ruiz had, we promoted.
“He has quick hands, he’s not a bad heavyweight, but he’s not a puncher. He devastated Joshua and knocked him out.
“So I think Joshua is still vulnerable and Pulev is a real tough, rugged heavyweight.”
Heavyweight Champion, Tyson Fury, who is arguably the most sought after fighter in heavyweight boxing at the moment, told iFL TV: “It’s heavyweight boxing, especially someone as big as they are, either could win.
“If Andy Ruiz can knock Joshua out, then Pulev definitely can.
“Pulev’s a lot bigger guy and punches probably harder than Ruiz does.”
Fury is the WBC heavyweight champion and awaits AJ if he wins.