What threat does Kubrat Pulev pose to Anthony Joshua?
All eyes are on the Wembley Arena this Saturday as Anthony Joshua steps back into the ring after almost a year out, to take on Kubrat Pulev.
AJ got his heavyweight career – and his titles – back with a mature win over Andy Ruiz JR in Saudi Arabia 12 months ago, putting to rest the demons from that shock defeat to the American-Mexican fighter in Madison Square Garden six months earlier.
But there’s still work to do for Joshua if he wants to reclaim his place as the heavyweight division’s dominant force against Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
The next step on AJ’s journey back to the top is Saturday’s showdown with Pulev, with Joshua’s IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts on the line. Our traders make Joshua the 1/9 favourite to win in London, but 11/2 shot Pulev has been around the canvas before, and could have a huge say in how Joshua’s 2021 and beyond shakes out.
Who is Kubrat Pulev?
Bulgarian Pulev is heading into his 30th professional fight, with a proud 29-1 record on the line.
That sole defeat came way back in 2014 to a Vladimir Klitschko still very much at his zenith, and yet Pulev had the great Ukrainian wobbled in the early moments before a fifth-round loss.
Pulev has won each of his eight fights since that loss in Hamburg, including victories over Britain’s Derek Chisora and Hughie Fury. His most recent fight came in November last year, with victory over American Rydell Booker via unanimous decision.
What threat does Pulev bring?
Pulev, the IBF’s mandatory challenger, knows this may well be his last shot at the big time, and will be looking to spring a surprise in front of 1,000 fans at Wembley.
Size-wise there isn’t much in it, with Pulev giving away just two inches in height and reach.
The Bulgarian is quick, has won half of his fights via knockout, and is experienced enough to not give Joshua any easy chances. And of course, Pulev will have learnt plenty from Joshua’s infamous defeat to Ruiz Jr in New York.
Then there’s the post-fight impact. Joshua’s camp will know that not only does Pulev himself warrant full focus, but that the real threat could be the ramifications of defeat.
With continued rumours that AJ and Fury are closing in on a one or even two-fight agreement, AJ can’t afford to head into any potential showdown with the Gypsy King on the back of defeat to Pulev.
Our traders have Fury as 8/15 favourite should a showdown go ahead, with AJ already the underdog at 3/2. The manner of Joshua’s performance – and the subsequent result – could have a big say in how those AJ – Fury odds play out over the coming weeks and months.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev
Anthony Joshua – 1/9
Draw – 25/1
Kubrat Pulev – 11/2
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing