Anthony Joshua knocked Kubrat Pulev out in the ninth round of their world heavyweight championship fight at The SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday night.
The WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion retained his titles by turning on the power switch to drop Pulev twice in the ninth round. It was Joshua’s first knockout win since his previous performance on home soil, in September 2018.
Although it was clear Joshua, 31, hadn’t forgotten about the upset stoppage he suffered to Ruiz before avenging it by decision in December 2019, the British star was able to balance safety with firepower by relying on his big jab and avoiding getting too reckless in going for the finish. A big part of that was how responsible the 39-year-old Pulev was throughout coupled with how much the native of Bulgaria was able to retain the threat of his right hand in order to hang around deep into the fight.
“It was a fight. I want less talk and more action in boxing. I hope everyone was satisfied tonight,” Joshua said. “I stuck to what I know best — boxing, looking to where I put my shots. When I was successful, I was successful. I really don’t want to do an interview right now, I just want everyone to go home and enjoy their Christmas.”
After a tentative start in which Joshua pawed with his jab and negotiated distance, the 6-foot-6 AJ finally made his power felt in Round 3 with a right cross that staggered Pulev. A flurry of combinations from Joshua followed until a right uppercut forced Pulev to turn his back and head for cover in the corner.
Pulev was lucky he wasn’t counted out for doing so and was given a standing eight-count despite not being floored. Moments later, Joshua appeared close to finishing the job altogether when a second right uppercut deposited Pulev to the canvas late in the round.
Joshua was asked afterwards whether he would seek an undisputed championship fight in 2021 against WBC and lineal titleholder Tyson Fury, and the unified titleholder appeared game despite a somewhat cryptic answer.