Anthony Joshua went at Kubrat Pulev in round three like the guy owed him money and whispered to him in round two at Wembley on Saturday night that he had no intention of paying him back. Pulev went down twice, and it looked like AJ would get brevity bonus. The burly Brit didn't seek to destroy Pulev, however, so the action continued for a spell.
Finally, in round nine, AJ had Pulev down, and the ref could have signaled last call. But no, the Bulgarian showed ample guts, he soldiered on. Not for long–a jab blinder and straight right exploded on Pulev, who went down like a sack of flour. The ref signaled a halt, and chatter began immediately about a Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua bout.
AJ didn't look his best, he probably gets a B, because Pulev was there for the taking early. AJ's body work was crisp, but we saw, and Fury saw, him huffing by round 8. The right uppercut has been crisper on other nights, but yes, it was still heavy, heavy enough to knock some marbles out of Pulev.
I bet Floyd Mayweather, watching from inside the arena, gives AJ a higher grade.
Here is the release Matchroom sent out:
BRUTAL JOSHUA KNOCKS OUT PULEV IN NINE ROUNDS TO RETAIN HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD TITLES
12 x 3 mins IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles
ANTHONY JOSHUA WKO9 (2:58) v KUBRAT PULEV
(Watford, England) (Sofia, Bulgaria)
Anthony Joshua dominated and then floored mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev to score a ninth-round knockout and retain his IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and Ireland and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories on its just-launched Global platform.
With 1,000 ticket-buying fans allowed into the building for the first time at a British fight since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Joshua's entrance was met by a huge roar from the crowd.
Joshua floored Pulev heavily on three occasions, twice in the final round, and ended the fight with a vicious right hand. The explosive performance from Joshua would have demanded the attention of WBC ruler Tyson Fury – they remain on a collision course to decide an Undisputed Champion in 2021.
Joshua told Sky Sports afterwards: “I started this game in 2013. I've been chasing all the belts. I've been dealing with mandatories.
“Of course I want the challenge. It's not about the opponent, it's about the legacy and the belt. Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It's no big deal.
“It's one fight at a time, picking them off one by one. That's all it's about for me. I've got to stay focused.”
“There's been a lot of talk,” Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports. “As he said, it's less talk, more action. Since he came into the office, he wanted to be the Undisputed Champion of the World.
“We're going to be friendly, we're going to be nice. We know what we have to do. Starting from tomorrow, we make the Tyson Fury fight straight away.
“It's the only fight to be made in boxing. It's the biggest fight in boxing. It's the biggest fight in British boxing history.”