Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev – Our Top Tips For The Big Fight

Boxing fans have been spoilt a little over the last few weeks with a number of big fights taking place all around the world. However, this weekend sees one of the biggest fights of the year and one that could have a lasting legacy into 2021 and beyond as the current WBC, IBF, WBO and IBO World Champion, Anthony Joshua puts his four belts on the line against Bulgarian challenger and Kubrat Pulev.

The two fighters had originally been scheduled to fight back in 2017, but injury forced Pulev to step down from that match in Cardiff, allowing Carlos Takam to take his place. The 39-year-old has had to bide his time to face the Champion, who regained his belts in his last outing, the rematch against Mexican heavyweight David Ruiz, who had beaten him so unexpectedly in New York early in 2019.

With a potential two-fight megadeal to face Tyson Fury in 2021 to unify the heavyweight division once again, there is a lot at stake for Joshua here and a defeat to Pulev would have huge repercussions for the heavyweight division as a whole. That is why this such an interesting fight and why so many punters are keen to have a bet on it. If you are one of them and fancy a wager on the outcome and need somewhere to bet, then the bet365 New Player Bonus is a fantastic place to start.

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Let’s now take a closer look at the big fight on Saturday, looking at both boxers taking part, the tale of the tape for the fight, their past records and of course, who we think will win, when and how in our special tips section for the fight.

Joshua v Pulev – Our Big Bout Preview

It has been over three years since the very first Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev fight was announced. Originally scheduled to take place in Cardiff, injury forced the Bulgarian challenger to pull out of the fight, which allowed Carlos Takam to step in to challenge Joshua. After Joshua’s loss to David Ruiz, the fight was once again on hold, but when Joshua won the rematch, it always appeared likely that the two fighters would belatedly cross paths.

While Joshua had his downfall and redemption battles with David Ruiz, Pulev was in action twice in 2019 himself, beating Bogdan Dinu in March and American Rydell Booker in November. Three of Pulev’s last four fights have gone the distance, which shows he is durable, but perhaps also indicates that his power, at the age of 39, is starting to wane.

Pulev’s aggressive, walk-forward, power style was similar to how Joshua used to box, but after Joshua adopted a very different approach with great success against David Ruiz in the second fight, it seems likely the British fighter will use similar tactics against a heavy, leaden-footed opponent once again.

Let’s now take a look at how both boxers match up in the tale of the tape for the fight.

Tale of the Tape

Anthony Joshua V Kubrat Pulev
31 Age 39
24 Fights 29
23 Wins 28
1 Losses 1
0 Draws 0
21 Knockouts 14
6ft 6” Height 6ft 4”
16st 13lb Weight 17st 7lb
82” Reach 79.5”
Orthodox Stance Orthodox
AJ Nickname The Cobra
British Nationality Bulgarian
WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO Belts Held None

The two have fought the same opponent on a number of occasions:

  • Matt Skelton – Joshua (Won 2nd Round TKO), Pulev (Won 4th Round KO)
  • Michael Sprott – Joshua (Won 1st Round KO), Pulev (Won 9th Round RTD)
  • Kevin Johnson – Joshua (Won 2nd Round KO), Pulev (Won 12th Round UD)
  • Wladimir Klitschko – Joshua (Won 11th Round, TKO), Pulev (Lost 5th Round KO)

Despite being eight years Pulev’s junior, Joshua has fought better quality opponents over the years than Pulev. In addition to the victories above, the two fighters have also faced:

  • Joshua’s Notable Opponents – David Ruiz (Twice, Winning One, Losing One), Alexander Povetkin (Win), Joseph Parker (Win), Carlos Takam (Win), Eric Molina (Win), Dominic Breazeale (Win), Charles Martin (Win), Dillian Whyte (Win)
  • Pulev’s Notable Opponents – Rydell Booker (Win), Bogdan Dinu (Win), Hughie Fury (Win), Derek Chisora (Win – SD), Tony Thompson (Win)

How will each fighter approach the fight?

As we saw in Anthony Joshua’s last fight with David Ruiz where he reclaimed the world titles, Joshua can adopt a very different approach to a fight now, moving away from overpowering his opponents, to hitting and moving and staying out of danger. I think the British champion will adopt this approach once again, using his reach advantage to keep Pulev at bay on the end of a jab, and only making sporadic moves to pick off the Bulgarian.

Pulev is less light on his feet than the Champion and he is a true come-to-fight boxer. His style is a little similar to David Ruiz, although he lacks Ruiz punching power and I think that is the big problem for him here. I can see Pulev trying to come forward but he may end up walking on to a few too many jabs and body shots to get close enough to Joshua where he can do his best work.

Who Will Win the Fight, When and How?

Given how we have analysed both fighters, their records, their form, their physical attributes and how we think both will approach the fight, what does that mean in terms of which markets to back for the bout?

Well first off, in the To Win market, we think Anthony Joshua, a 1/12 favourite with bet365 at the moment, is the clear pick. He is younger, faster, equally as strong as Pulev and has shown that he is adaptable enough to counter this particular type of opponent. Pulev is a 6/1 outside bet and in truth, unless he lands an absolute haymaker from nowhere, I can’t see him getting much from this fight.

So if Joshua is going to win, the better odds are available in considering when and how he will achieve that. My guess is Joshua will use his jab and sporadic attacks to soften Pulev up in the opening rounds of the bout and as his opponent tires as we reach midway of the fight, I think Joshua can then step on the gas to land the win. I’d back Joshua to win in the sixth round (which is 17/2 with bet365) and by a Knockout (which is 4/11).