Anthony Joshua did not let his mind wander more than the match against Kubrat Pule. He has overcome obstacles before and has now failed to compile himself. But throughout the week he refused to look beyond Pule, and that unwavering focus led him to the ninth round in front of 1,000 fans at the SSE arena in London on Saturday.
Joshua knocked down Pule in the third round with a sweet hit, but Bulgaria’s strong chin kept him fighting until the ninth. The tops and straight right hand quickly landed the excited pule.
As for Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs), it was an exorcism of the ugly Andy Ruiz Jr. spell because it was reminiscent of Joshua’s ruthless ability to keep a fight in its tracks. The extra point was that Joshua lived up to the promise, but despite his laser-like focus, it still felt like a starter with the main course coming up.
Joshua did not even mention Tyson Fury’s name in building this fight, but the possession of a WBC belt and a possible epic match between them in 2021 made the match an omnipotent distraction. It was only after Bulew was sent that Joshua finally mentioned those two words of the man standing in the way of a unity.
“When I started this game in 2013, I was pushing all the belts and handling the compulsions,” Joshua said. “Of course, I have a challenge. It’s not about enemies, it’s about legacy and belts – whoever gets the belt, I want to compete with them. If it’s Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It’s not a big deal.”
S.S.E. Fury rejected matchroom advertiser Eddie Hearn’s invitation to be the ringside in the arena, but he watched from afar as Joshua defended his WBA, IBF and WBO titles and lived up to his priority promise of “destroying”. [Pulev’s] Soul. “
– Tyson Fury (ys Tyson_Fury) December 12, 2020
It’s been a long time between fights – a year and five days since Joshua stopped Ruiz in the Saudi Arabia rematch following his Madison Square Garden dream. There were concerns that Joshua would show the ring pole, but in order to combat it, he provoked throughout the fight week on Thursday evening, warning his coach Rob McRaque not to wear a helmet for a few days after the fight.
The 39-year-old Bulew (28-2, 14 Co.) was a talented opponent and landed a few jabs on Joshua, but the British fighter was in control throughout.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Ringside invited Joshua to use Jab more, but Joshua did, and got caught up in the plan to send Pule and avoid another slip.
He prepared for this fight as Vladimir Klitschko did for Pule in 2014. Later Joshua was one of Klitschko’s spearing partners. He spoke with the Ukrainian elder for an hour on the phone on Wednesday, searching for his opponent’s information and gathering any knowledge from Klitschko about how he caused the only setback in Pule’s life on Saturday.
This performance was reminiscent of Klitschko, his post-war words.
“I’m my best version – I’m not fighting anyone else, myself,” Joshua said, avoiding any predictions as to who he would go down in line with.
The next stage for Joshua may be the WBO challenge of Alexander Usic, but the boxing world wants to see all the British superfight against Fury. Thanks to his victory over Dionte Wilder in February “Gypsy King” caught Joshua’s attention this year, but Joshua will never last long in the shadows.
Joshua deeply realizes that he must improve further if he is to defeat Puri. Earlier it was felt that he might have ended this fight against Pule, but let the Bulgarians go back inside. Against an opponent like Fury, he cannot offer those opportunities, nor can he be impressed by Fury’s distractions. Joshua has long boasted of avoiding the pantomime of boxing. He was worried that winning Ruiz in December was not enough. After Saturday’s win over Pulev, he spoke immediately about his hope that 1,000 fans who were lucky enough to get one of the tickets would have enjoyed the show. But it won, different.
It was similar to Joshua’s previous fight in the UK, which returned in 2018. It was in the same corner of London that the burning A.J. Then, Alexander Bowetkin’s seventh round was the last hurdle before a coordination fight. But Joshua’s definite plan for world domination had to wait because Ruiz stunned Britain and the boxing world. The win saw him get his show back on track. The win provides a platform for Joshua to chase boxing immortality with Fury, who returned to the Instagram postfight, promising to knock Joshua three rounds and waiting.
Joshua has done his bit – he has built his products into “less talk, more action”. That was the message he sent to the waiting boxing world. Now the power brokers have to finalize the deal to give the boxer the fight it wants.