Joshua v Pulev odds
Anthony Joshua returns to the ring for the first time in 2020 on Saturday night to defend his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles against Kubrat Pulev.
Joshua hasn’t fought since last December, when he avenged the only loss of his career to date against Andy Ruiz with a win on points, reclaiming his belts in the process.
Big fights against Oleksandr Usyk, Dillian Whyte and particularly Tyson Fury are on the horizon for Joshua, but first he must come through this pesky mandatory defence against Pulev.
The Bulgarian has been hovering near the top of the heavyweight rankings for years and was first installed as the mandatory for Joshua’s IBF title back in 2017, but a shoulder injury ruled him out of a fight with the champion, allowing Carlos Takam to take his place.
Now, after some keep-busy fights over the past three years, Pulev gets his first title shot since he lost to Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014.
Joshua is a big favourite to win on Saturday night, while Pulev is a underdog.
Joshua v Pulev prediction
With years of experience at the top of the heavyweight division, Pulev will be no pushover for Joshua.
The Bulgarian is far from the flashiest fighter in the world, but he blends toughness with a solid technique built over a long amateur and professional career.
The fifth-round knockout defeat to Klitschko in 2014 remains the only defeat of the 39-year-old’s 29-fight career, and, in Dereck Chisora and Hughie Fury, the 39-year-old has beaten two reputable British fighters since 2016.
Joshua is, however, at least a few levels above those opponents, and should get the job done at the O2 on Saturday.
The shock defeat to Ruiz in June 2019 seemed to refocus the Englishman after a few performances that were slightly below-par. He tried to blast Ruiz out of the first fight, but was on high alert in the rematch, boxing faultlessly from the outside on the way to a comfortable win on points.
Joshua’s killer instinct made him the star that he is today, but the more measured approach served him well against Ruiz and is likely the plan he will follow against Pulev and other dangerous heavyweights.
With the champion likely to box carefully in the early rounds before pushing on as the fight progresses, it’s worth backing him to secure a knockout win in the later rounds.
Joshua to win in rounds 7-9
Joshua to win in rounds 10-12
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