Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev: A look at the Bulgarian’s last five fights

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Wembley Arena, London, on December 12th.

It will be the first time in 12 months that AJ will enter the ring, with his bout against Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia last December, when he regained his belts, his last outing.

The pair were supposed to meet at the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in June. However, the coronavirus pandemic put paid to those plans, and AJ, who is the heavy favourite in the Joshua vs Pulev odds from Paddy Power, will now make his Wembley Arena debut, in front of just 1,000 fans, against the Bulgarian.

With fight night fast approaching, many fight fans may be asking ‘who is Pulev?’ So, to help familiarise yourself with the Bulgarian, let’s take a look back at his last five bouts.

Pulev vs Rydell Booker – November 2019 – Chukchansi Park, California

Pulev vs Rydell Booker co-headlined Jamel Herring vs Lamont Roach Jr. at Chukchansi Park in California back in November 2019. It was a disappointing performance from the Bulgarian, as his slow reactions and weak punches looked well below par of the standards required to compete with the top heavyweights like Joshua. However, whilst it wasn’t the performance many expected from Pulev, he won with ease on the judges’ scorecards (99-91, 98-92, 98-92).

Pulev vs Bogdan Dinu – March 2019 – The Hangar, California

‘The Cobra’ signed for a three-fight deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank in December 2018, and his first outing was against Romanian Bogdan Dinu at The Hangar in California. The bout failed to build any excitement due to Dinu’s recent fourth-round knockout at the hands of Jarrell Miller. Pulev bounced back from a deep cut above his eye, which he received in the fourth round, by KOing his opponent in the seventh.

However, the fight didn’t end without controversy, as Pulev punched Dinu on the back of the head whilst on the mat after the first of his three knockdowns. The Romanian felt that the 39-year-old should have been disqualified, but the fight continued with just a points deduction for the Bulgarian, and after two more knockdowns in the same round, the bout was over.

Pulev vs Hughie Fury – October 2018- Arena Armeec, Sofia

After an 18-month break from the ring, Pulev went toe-to-toe with Briton Hughie Fury in an IBF final eliminator at the Arena Armeec in Sofia, Bulgaria. Fighting in his own backyard, The Cobra secured the win over the Briton, who is the cousin of current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, via a unanimous decision, with the judges’ scorecards reading 117-111, 118-110 and 115-113 in the Bulgarian’s favour. Pulev’s victory quashed the hopes of Fury, who was hoping for a win that would set-up an all-British encounter with Joshua.

Pulev vs Kevin Johnson – April 2017 – Arena Armeec, Sofia

Pulev’s bout against American Kevin Johnson was another fight which failed to gain much traction, and it was yet again a fairly dull affair. The Bulgarian was never put under any pressure by Johnson, who lasted just two rounds against AJ back in 2016, but he wasn’t able to inflict a knockout blow on the then 37-year-old. Instead, it was back to the judges’ scorecards, where Pulev retained his WBA inter-continental title via another comfortable unanimous decision (120-108, 120-108, 119-109). The victory set up a world title bout with Joshua. However, the Bulgarian pulled out of the Principality Stadium contest injured just days before, and Carlos Takam stepped in on short notice to trade blows with AJ instead.

Pulev vs Samuel Peter – December 2017 – Arena Armeec, Sofia

Any sign of that 2014 knockout at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko having a knock-on effect on Pulev’s career were quashed as the Bulgarian landed his fourth successive victory against Samuel Peter. The Cobra entered the ring on the back of a split decision win over Derek Chisora, and made easy work of Nigerian Peter, who was clearly out of shape in what was just his third fight in six years. The former heavyweight champion was on the receiving end of some big punches, and he gave up upon the conclusion of the third round.

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