Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles against Kubrat Pulev in what is the biggest fight to take place on these shores during the remainder of 2020.
Joshua (23-1) is hoping to move a step closer to that dream unification showdown with fellow British heavyweight king Tyson Fury next summer, while for the veteran Pulev (28-1) this could be the last chance of victory at the very highest level.
While Joshua will start as a hot favourite to retain his titles and close in on that huge Fury showdown, heavyweight boxing is a dangerous game. And ‘The Gypsy King’ may well be sat behind his sofa in Morecambe. Lancashire with his eyes closed hoping nothing goes wrong for his big rival.
If Joshua does prevail, it will be full steam ahead for next summer and the biggest fight in British boxing history.
Joshua vs Pulev date, time and venue
Joshua vs Pulev will take place at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday December 12, 2020. While uncertain at present, it is still hoped some spectactors will be allowed to attend.
The fight had initially been due to take place at at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, but that date was scuppered by the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
With the bout taking place in the UK, ring walk times for Joshua vs Pulev are likely to be between 2200 GMT (1700 ET) and 2300 GMT (1800 ET).
Joshua vs Pulev TV channel and live stream
Joshua is a huge box-office draw and his last bout – that revenge victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last December – drew a domestic record 1.6million pay-per-view buys on Sky Sports Box Office. Each paid £24.99 for the privilege.
The Pulev fight will again be a Sky Sports PPV with Joshua continuing his highly successful association with the UK’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster.
Joshua vs Pulev will be showed by streaming platform DAZN ($19.99 per month or $99 for an annual subscription) in the United States, along with its other eight markets (Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Switzerland and Austria)
Joshua vs Pulev odds
Not surprisingly Joshua is a heavy favourite to improve his record to 24-1 and retain his world heavyweight titles. He is a best-priced 1/8 to come out victorious and as short as 1/10 in places. Pulev meanwhile is generally a 5/1 or 11/2 shot with the Draw a 33/1 or 40/1 chance.
For those punters looking for a little better in terms of return for their money, Joshua is 3/1 to win by decision or technical decision.
Joshua vs Pulev weights
The weigh-in for Joshua vs Pulev will be held 24 hours before the fight takes place – on Friday December 11.
Joshua weighed in at 237lbs (16st 13lbs) for his last bout, that points defeat of Ruiz Jr in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December 2019, That was some 10 pounds lighter than he had been for the first meeting.
Pulev weighed in at 248lbs (17st 10lbs) for his last ring outing, a unanimous decision over Rydell Booker in Fresno, California last November.
Anthony Joshua record and profile
Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, better known simply as ‘AJ’, was born on October 15, 1989 and is now 30 years old and likely hitting his peak as a heavyweight fighter.
Joshua, born and bred in Watford, England, stands 6ft 6ins tall and has a reach of 82ins making him an imposing figure in boxing’s marquee weight division. He has a record and achievements to match that physical stature. His current CV as a professional stands at 23-1 – 23 victories with just one defeat and with 21 of the victories coming inside distance.
The only blot so far on Joshua’s professional record is that stunning upset loss to the Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2) at Madison Square Garden in June 2019. That defeat was quickly avenged by an impressive points victory in the rematch in Saudi Arabia in December 2019.
Before that Ruiz Jr loss, Joshua had looked nigh on invincible as he made the successful move from 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight gold in the amateurs to world-title glory in the paid ranks.
His first major test as a pro came in his 15th bout when he faced fellow Briton and now WBC mandatory contender Dillian Whyte in December 2015. AJ duly prevailed via a seventh-round TKO after an explosive encounter.
Joshua would claim his first world title in his very next fight. That was a highly impressive demolition of Charles Martin inside two rounds at London’s O2 Arena in April 2016.
The next big signpost in AJ’s blossoming career came on an epic night at Wembley Stadium in April 2017, when he fought an unforgettable duel with the great Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua was down and almost out in a gripping battle before coming back to score a sensational victory via an 11th-round stoppage. It was a superb fight from which both men emerged with great credit and enhanced reputations. Joshua also emerged with the WBA world heavyweight title to add to his IBF belt.
Victories over Carlos Takam, WBO champion Joseph Parker (who did at least become the first man to take AJ the distance as a pro) and Alexander Povetkin followed before that disastrous night against Ruiz Jr in Madison Square Garden in June 2019. The late stand-in challenger was as big as a 30/1 underdog with some sportsbooks. But he shocked the world with a seventh-round stoppage of the champion.
Joshua didn’t complain about the result but instead immediately exercised his right to a rematch in Saudi Arabia in December 2019. He regained his titles by boxing smartly from the outside against a distinctly rotund opponent who appeared to have spent most of his time as champion sparring with the refrigerator – and losing.
Kubrat Pulev record and profile
Kubrat Pulev was born on May 4, 1981 in Sofia, Bulgaria and is now 39 years old. He has a professional record of 28-1 – 28 victories and just one defeat. Some 14 of those victories have come by way of knockout.
Pulev, known as ‘The Cobra’ turned professional in 2009 and he stands 6ft 4½ins tall with a reach of 79½ins. He began his career in the paid ranks with great success. He claimed victory in his first 20 fights to earn a shot at the world heavyweight titles held by the great Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko vs Pulev took place in the O2 World Arena in Altona, Germany in November 2014. For the Bulgarian it was a rude awakening at the very highest level.
‘Dr Steelhammer’ wasn’t always the most exciting world champion to watch, but in his 17th title defence he was clearly confident of an early night as he went on the rampage against the overmatched Pulev.
The Bulgarian was down twice in the opening round as Klitschko went on the offensive early. And only real heart from ‘The Cobra’ took it any further. The end was highlight-reel stuff, as Klitschko closed the show with a beauty of a left hook in round 5.
It has taken six long years for Pulev to get back to world-title level. He has to an extent rebuilt his career with some decent if not great victories. Wins over the likes of British pair Dereck Chisora and Hughie Fury mark him down as a perfectly serviceable heavyweight. But there is a big difference between that and the elite level which Joshua represents.
Pulev’s co-promoter Arum is convinced his man has what it takes to shock the world and become the second man to stop Joshua. But he’s a promoter, he would say that, wouldn’t he? That view is also counter to the record of a man who has only won 14 of his 29 fights inside distance.