Anthony Joshua makes his highly anticipated return Saturday night when he defends his IBF, WBA (super) and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev at Wembley’s SSE Arena in London in front of 1,000 fans.
Joshua (23-1, 20 KOs) is back in action for the first time since regaining his titles from Andy Ruiz Jr. with a one-sided unanimous decision victory last December. This came after Ruiz shocked the world in June 2019 with a stunning knockout over the previously-unbeaten Joshua. With Joshua regaining his distinction as unified champion, he’ll look to turn back the challenge of Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the No. 1 ranked contender for Joshua’s IBF title.
This will be Pulev’s second opportunity to win a world title. He was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko back in November 2014, which still stands as the only loss in his professional career. At 39 years of age, this is likely Pulev’s last chance to become a champion.
As for Joshua, he needs to get past Pulev in order to do his part to set the stage for a massive showdown with WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021 to determine an undisputed champion. But he cannot afford to look ahead and see the opportunity get dashed by his opponent, who is salivating for the chance to dethrone the British superstar.
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Joshua vs. Pulev results
Round 4 (6:08 p.m.): Joshua is smiling at Pulev. Joshua begins working behind the jab. Pulev attacks with a right hand that barely misses AJ. Joshua is patient. Looking for another opening to unload but Pulev hasn’t given him one. 10-9 Joshua (40-34 Joshua)
Round 3 (6:04 p.m.): Pulev advances and throws and Joshua ducks under it. Joshua puts a right hand behind the jab that lands. Pulev misses a right hand and Joshua crushes him with a right hand. Joshua smashes him again and Pulev smiles. After smiling, Joshua nukes Pulev with another combination and Pulev turns his back for a count. Joshua SMASHES him with a pair of uppercuts and down goes Pulev! Pulev survives the round but he got SMOKED. 10-7 Joshua (30-25 Joshua)
Round 2 (6:00 p.m.): Joshua aiming to unload that right hand. Popping the jab. Nothing really landing. One pops Pulev’s head back. Joshua with a combination. Pulev misses a sweeping right and Joshua smacks him with a jab. Pulev hasn’t really done a thing in there. Will he get active soon? 10-9 Joshua (20-18 Joshua)
Round 1 (5:56 p.m.): Pulev and Joshua meet in the center of the ring. Neither doing much for the first minute. Joshua lands a jab and a right hand. Joshua looks gigantic in there. Not a whole lot here. Joshua with a few jabs. 10-9 Joshua.
5:43 p.m.: Kubrat Pulev has entered the ring to a chorus of boos from the 1,000 fans in attendance. This is a noisy crowd that rivals full houses in big arenas. Anthony Joshua follows behind with a theatrical entrance. His initials are on fire near the walkway as pyro goes off behind him. He stares down Pulev. It’s about to go down.
5:33 p.m.: Floyd Mayweather has arrived just in time for the main event as Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev make their final preparations.
5:10 p.m: As expected, Lawrence Okolie steamrolls Nikodem Jezewski. But it was frightening for a moment. An Okolie right hand to the body put Jezewski down early. But Jezewski would make it to his feet only to eat another right hand sends his body into convulsions. He wasn’t taking the punches well and the fight could have been stopped. Somehow, the fight is allowed to continued and Okolie lands another straight right hand puts him down in the 2nd round. Fortunately, the fight is stopped.
4:58 p.m.: The co-main event is up next as Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1) steps in on five days to face Lawrence Okolie in cruiserweight action. Okolie (14-0) has been pegged as one to watch in the division and will aim to dominate his opponent.
4:46 p.m.: Perhaps the most remarkable thing to take place in this fight came courtesy of Fury’s corner, who somehow managed to turn that cut into a non-factor. Fury dominated every aspect of this fight and could be a problem for the lower end of top 10 heavyweights. Wach never was able to establish anything outside of being Fury’s punching bag. Judges saw the fight in favor of Fury with scores of 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91.
4:22 p.m.: Fury has found some success switching stances and landed some big shots on Wach. However, the stance switching has caused a clash of heads that caused a cut over the left eye of Fury that is pretty bad. It looks like it’s getting worse and the fight could be stopped sooner than later. If that happens, the fight would go to the scorecards and Fury should take the decision.
3:52 p.m.: Up next is a clash of heavyweights as Hughie Fury (24-3) faces Mariusz Wach. The first cousin of Tyson Fury enters the fight following a third-round knockout of Pavel Sour back in March. Wach (36-6) bounced back from his December loss to Dillian Whyte with a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Johnson.
3:47 p.m.: It appears that the judges favored Martin Bakole’s activity and jab over Kuzmin’s sharp counterpunching as Bakole took the unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 97-93 & 96-94. Kuzmin’s lack of activity early on surely did him in and Bakole could factor into the heavyweight division sooner than later.
3:38 p.m.: We’re getting settled in for the final three fights of the night. Right now, Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin are engaged in a closely contested fight as we enter the final round. Scorecards could go either way as both have had their moments. Bakole has been busy but Kuzmin has found his spots to land cleaner punches in the middle and late rounds.
Joshua vs. Pulev fight start time
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 12
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- Joshua vs. Pulev: 5:30 p.m. ET
The Joshua-Pulev main card begins at 2 p.m. ET. Joshua and Pulev are expected to make their ring walks around 5:30 p.m. ET, although the time depends on the length of the earlier fights.
How to watch Joshua vs. Pulev
The Joshua vs. Pulev fight is available on DAZN in the United States and Canada, along with most territories around the world. (In the U.K. and Ireland, the fight is on Sky Sports Box Office.)
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Joshua vs. Pulev fight card
- Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev for Joshua’s IBF, WBA (super) and WBO Heavyweight titles
- Lawrence Okolie vs. Nikodem Jezewski; Cruiserweight
- Hughie Fury vs. Mariusz Wach; Heavyweight
- Martin Bakole vs. Sergey Kuzmin; Heavyweight
- Kieron Conway vs. Macaulay McGowan; Super Welterweight
- Florian Marku vs. Jamie Stewart; Welterweight
- Qais Ashfaq vs. Ashley Lane; Women’s Super Bantamweight
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