Anthony Joshua has defended his heavyweight world titles with a statement knockout victory over Bulgarian veteran Kubrat Pulev in front of 1,000 fans in London.
Joshua used his significant reach advantage to repeatedly sting 39-year-old Pulev with his long jab and backed it up with devastating uppercuts from the inside — earning four knockdowns and the eventual ninth-round KO.
After a pair of tentative opening rounds, Joshua exploded in the third round with a brutal flurry that knocked his opponent down twice — including Pulev once turning his back and retreating from Joshua in a daze, in a moment that could have seen the fight ended immediately.
Pulev showed plenty of resilience to make it through the round and, despite seeming to be outscored in almost every round, the threat of his dangerous right hand kept Joshua on his toes and forced the champion to show great discipline.
In his first fight since regaining his WBA, WBO, IBO, and IBF belts in a rematch win over Andy Ruiz Jnr last December, Joshua showed his full range of superb ability.
In the ninth, Joshua’s uppercuts found their mark again and again, sending Pulev to the floor for the third and fourth times in the fight – and the last time, Pulev was not regaining his feet.
Joshua moves to 24-1, while Pulev lost for just the second time in his career (now 28-2), and his first since a 2014 world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko.
“Less talk, more action,” Joshua said of his approach. “… Boxing’s about less talk and more action, and I hope everyone was satisfied tonight.”
While Joshua skirted around questions over Tyson Fury, his promoter, Eddie Hearn, was far more certain that a heavyweight unification bout was the one he wanted next.
“We all know what we’ve got to do,” Hearn said on the DAZN broadcast. “We all know what he [Joshua] wants, we all know what I want.
“He doesn’t want to talk about it. He only wants to talk about if it’s signed and delivered, and that’s my job.”
Hearn added: “When he came into our office many years ago, the aim was to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
“It’s the only fight to make next. It’s the biggest fight in boxing.”
Anthony Joshua def. Kubrat Pulev — via 9th round KO — WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles
Lawrence Okolie def. Nikodem Jezewski — via 2nd round TKO — vacant WBO International cruiserweight title
Hughie Fury def. Mariusz Wash (100-90 x 2, 99-91) — heavyweight
Martin Bakole def. Sergey Kuzmin — via unanimous decision (98-92, 97-93, 96-94) — heavyweight
Kieron Conway def. Macaulay McGowan — via unanimous decision (100-90,100-89, 100-89) — super welterweight
Florian Marku and Jamie Stewart — draw — welterweight
Qais Ashfaq def. Ashley Lane — via fourth-round TKO — super bantamweight