World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua produced a devastating finish to knock out Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev near the end of the ninth round to retain his IBF, WBO and WBA belts at Wembley Arena on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Briton had looked close to winning when he floored Pulev in the third round but the challenger recovered to test the home favourite in front of a limited crowd of 1,000.
Anthony Joshua knocks down Pulev 💥 pic.twitter.com/ZgFnJ4SG4F
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) December 12, 2020
But there was no escape for the challenger in the ninth round as Joshua landed a clubbing right upper-cut which sent Pulev to the canvas. The 39-year-old got up but Joshua connected with another straight right hand to end the contest.
The champion’s 24th win from 25 professional fights sets up the prospect of a mouth-watering unification clash next year with fellow Briton Tyson Fury who holds the WBC belt.
“I stuck to what I know best, looking at where I’m going to put my shots,” Joshua said at ringside. “When they are successful they are successful. It’s less talk and more action.”
Asked about fighting Fury, Joshua put the question to the audience: “Who wants to see Anthony Joshua fight Tyson Fury in 2021,” he said, to which the crowd roared their approval.
“Whoever’s got the belt, I’d love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury!” 👀
Could we see finally Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury in 2021? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/c4PVODqUQU
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) December 12, 2020
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn was eager to get the pair together, saying: “Starting from tomorrow, we make the Tyson Fury fight straight away. It’s the only fight to be made in boxing. It is the biggest fight in British boxing history.”
Pulev’s only defeat in his previous 29 contests came in 2014 against Wladimir Klitschko and the gritty Bulgarian proved a worthy challenger for Joshua’s belts.
After a cagey opening round, Joshua unleashed a powerful combination in the second, which was greeted with a smirk by Pulev. There was no smiling from the Bulgarian in the third round though as he walked onto a right upper cut.
Joshua looked one punch away from finishing it but Pulev somehow survived an onslaught to make it to the bell.
Thanks for coming 💥 pic.twitter.com/zvDVXPNLwK
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) December 13, 2020
Pulev regained his poise in the fourth, however, and Joshua looked slightly hesitant, despite his superior firepower.
Joshua was caught by a couple of rights in the fifth but by the time the ninth began he had won every round.
Still, it was going to take something special to stop Pulev and that moment arrived near the end of the ninth as Joshua produced a devastating finish to a fight that was a potential tricky hurdle to a Battle of Britain showdown with Fury.