How Anthony Joshua knocked out Kubrat Pulev: A round-by-round account of AJ’s successful title defence (Pictures)
Joshua defended his IBF, WBA and WBO belts by beating the Bulgarian by a knockout in the ninth round at Wembley. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of the duel through each round…
Here we go. The two tap gloves and the game is afoot. It’s cagey, with Joshua starting with a body shot. Both have their guards up with Joshua’s left serving as both defensive tool and attacking weapon. They exchange jabs. Joshua lands one through the Pulev defence. A lot of feinting going on. Nice left from Pulev but he’s knocked back by a Joshua jab. A quiet opener, with maybe AJ ahead. Our scorecard: 10-9 to Joshua.
That long left jab of Joshua’s being launched at both Pulev’s head and body. A minute in, he lands a good one on Pulev. Then a decent combination reaches its target. Pulev smiles, but that may be gamesmanship. Pulev counters but his punches are a little telegraphed. Joshua looks lean, and he lands a decent body shot towards the end of the round. Our scorecard: Joshua 20-18 Pulev
Pulev goes on the attack but Joshua ducks under a jab, as the Bulgarian tries to gain control of the centre of the ring. There’s a clinch and a clubbing right from Pulev. Joshua catches Pulev with a right cross, and Pulev is shaken. He smiles again but he is wobbling. Then Pulev goes to the corner, and as Joshua unleashes a dizzying combination a standing count is called. They resume and Pulev is swiftly down, and wobbling. He gets up at eight and hangs on until the end. There are shots after the bell from Pulev who was lucky to survive the round. Our scorecard: Joshua 30-25 Pulev.
What can Joshua do now? Pulev looks pretty damned robust considering the punishment he has just taken but AJ looks for the combinations that caused such problems in the third. Pulev launches a bomb. He’s already in the position where a knockout may be required. Has a flat spot been hit? Pulev seems to have cleared his head. There’s a clinch and Pulev tries some body shots. Pulev launches a couple over the top without really connecting. Better from the Bulgarian. He looked gone in the third but fought back well. Our scorecard: Joshua 39-35 Pulev.
Pulev aggressive now. Joshua a little more circumspect. He throws a couple of jabs but seems to have waylaid his previous fluency. Pulev’s defensive quality showing up, and he is using the body punches, as proved successful for Ruiz. Joshua though, with another of those right crosses, has Pulev rocked. But he comes back again, and finishes the round on the front foot. Our scorecard: Joshua 48-45 Pulev
Joshua skips away from Pulev’s attempts to take up the initiative. There’s a clinch, and Pulev is trying his best with his right hand. It’s all something of a grapple, and that suits Pulev. He is trying to go for the back of the head, and the referee has noticed that. Pulev is bulldozing on but Joshua is still moving well. Our scorecard: Joshua 58-55 Pulev
Joshua lopes out for the seventh, and launches a series of left-hand jabs. He takes up the aggressor’s role, and lands an uppercut when they get close in. Pulev tries a long-range right that Joshua sees. Another uppercut comes in. Then comes a barrage of combinations. Pulev laughing again as he counters. Joshua steps off the gas a little and ends up on the end of a jab and a rare 1-2 from Pulev. Our scorecard: Joshua 68-64 Pulev
Joshua tries to keep Pulev on the end of a jab. But Pulev lands a sweet right. AJ goes back in and is aggressive with a nice combination, and Joshua goes again for the body. Pulev is a tough nut to crack, make no mistake. The clinches are becoming more prevalent. This is not an easy night for Joshua, who is showing off a mix of his skills. He is ahead on points but a KO is looking less likely. The jab is keeping Pulev at bay and he looks tired. Our scorecard: Joshua 78-73 Pulev.
Joshua again begins with those left-hand jabs, and Pulev tries to get inside. He can only do so with a clinch. Pulev looks remarkably unmarked despite the shots he has taken. Joshua misses with a huge uppercut that might have got the job done. Then comes another uppercut. Pulev hangs on for dear life, while still smiling. He sure can take a punch. But then comes two mighty uppercuts that surely finish him. He’s down, but gets up after an eight count. The first punch that follows clubs Pulev to the ground. He won’t be getting back up.