Nigerian-British boxer, Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua will be in action in London this weekend, in a match that can make or mar his dream to become the undisputed champion of the world. He will be facing experienced Bulgarian fighter Kubrat Pulev. A win could pave the way for an Undisputed Heavyweight Championship battle between Joshua and Tyson Fury in 2021. If a match like this happens, it will pit Joshua’s IBF, WBA (super), WBO Heavyweight titles; against Fury’s IBF, WBA (super), WBO and WBC titles. The winner would become the undisputed heavyweight fighter of the world. This will be super exciting!
Last year, the world saw one of the biggest upsets in Boxing history as Anthony Joshua was knocked down four (4) times by Andy Ruiz to lose his Heavyweight titles. But months later, Joshua reinvented himself and regained his title to the thrill of fans. He is now set to defend his world heavyweight titles against Pulev and then take on Tyson Fury in 2021. “I have concentrated on training, on improving my boxing, all year. I haven’t had to do much commercial or promotional stuff, I have had more time with my family and more time to train seriously. And the longer I wait for Fury, the better prepared I’ll be.”; Joshua has said. But before he hurries to face Fury, he has his unified Heavyweight titles to defend against a clever Kubrat Pulev.
But let’s get it straight: who is a Unified Champion, and an Undisputed Champion?
A unified champion is one who holds two or more of the major titles in a division: IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO. A unified champion is a fighter who holds belts from two or more bodies, but not necessarily all four major titles for the division. Current unified champions include: Heavyweight: Anthony Joshua — IBF, WBA (super), WBO; Welterweight: Errol Spence Jr. — IBF, WBC; Light heavyweight: Artur Beterbiev — IBF, WBC; etc. The undisputed champion in boxing is a fighter who holds all belts from the four major governing bodies: the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF. The world has seen great undisputed champions like Mohammed Ali, Joe Fraizer, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holfield. The last undisputed champion the world saw was Lennox Lewis back from November 1999 till April 2000.
Joshua V Pulev is important because Joshua will be defending all his unified titles against Pulev; which means that if he loses the fight, he will forfeit all his belts, and Pulev could now face Fury instead of Joshua. This is a possibility that fans of AJ (including most Nigerians) dread.
In 2019, we had two different Joshuas. The confident, fearless, and hard-punching Joshua who believed in his strength and power. But when he got in the ring with Ruiz, he was humbled as he got knocked down four times man-to-man. Six months later, a new Joshua was born. A sensible boxer, and aware boxer, with a flexible shape, and a strategy to not get into unnecessary punching bouts. We saw a Joshua who had learnt to fight with his head and not with his heart and muscles. He got the better of Ruiz and got back his Heavyweight belts too.
But what version of Joshua are going to see against Pulev?
The confident, fearless, and hard-punching Joshua? Or the patient and effective boxer?
In the first fight vs Ruiz he felt an overwhelming superiority and wanted to please the fans who wanted him to take out an obese Ruiz easily. He was fighting for the fans and the media who wanted the spectacular. But he has learned a bitter lesson, “you cannot beat every boxer with a Knockout. Sometimes, you have to win by getting more punches and more points, not by doing the fantastic for more images and videos for the media.” We might end up seeing an evolving Joshua, who is willing to take risks, but also act very cautiously. He is now a man of himself and ready to fight his fight, and the fight of the sponsors, the fans, or the media. A Joshua who is very adaptable depending on the opponent and the circumstances. This fact about Joshua’s new philosophy is why leading prediction experts at betBonanza are offering generous odds for Joshua to win by Points or Technical decision. The tendencies of the new Joshua also led them to believe that with what’s at stake, Joshua could be tempted to launch out against Pulev at Round 3, after assessing the Bulgarian’s fighting strategy. A series of quick counterattacks could give Joshua a Knockout or Technical Knockout win. This is because Joshua has won 95% of his fights by Knockout. He has one of the most powerful jabs in Boxing, and his punches can be deadly. He was even the first to knock down a fast puncher like Ruiz in Round 3 on the night he lost. Though prediction experts have overwhelmingly thrown their weight behind Joshua, Saturday night could be one of the most important nights of Anthony Joshua’s career. He will be fighting four oppositions at the same time.
A battle against himself and his instincts to use force
A battle to use his head and be realistic about his abilities
A battle to retain his Heavyweight Titles
A battle to stand a chance of facing Tyson Fury and become the Undisputed World Champion.
It's a night where he could win or lose four fights at once. The world will be watching to see what version of Anthony Joshua will be on display. He will need all his experiences from winning 23 of his last 24 fights, winning 80% of his fights by Technical Knockout, his unbeaten record in the UK, and fighting at the heart of his fanbase in London; to get the all-important win.