Joshua Stops Pulev In 9th To Retain 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.”

12 x 3 mins vacant WBO International Cruiserweight Title 
LAWRENCE OKOLIE WTKO2 (1:45)v NIKODEM JEZEWSKI
(Hackney, England)                                (Koscierzyna, Poland)

Lawrence Okolie swiftly demolished Nikodem Jezewski to stay on course for a WBO Cruiserweight World Title fight next year. The unbeaten 27-year-old was denied a fight for the vacant WBO belt after Krzysztof Glowacki tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but Okolie made short work of his Polish replacement opponent.The explosive power in Okolie’s fists was evident in the opening minute as he rattled in a right hand before a body shot sent Jezewski to his knees.A straight right hand then sent shockwaves through Jezewski’s legs as he tumbled back to the canvas. Okolie would not be denied a quick finish and a right hand sent Jezewski tumbling backwards for a third and final time in the second round.

Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Okolie said: “I’m really happy. I was in the back room thinking I’m really calm and chilled. I just went out there to try and execute what I do every day in the gym. I really came out of the cage. I’m happy to get the win. I’ll have to watch it back, but from the reaction ringside, it seems like it was good. It’s what we’ve been working on. I do it every day in training. It’s about taking it from training to the fight. If I’m able to do what I’m doing in training in my next fight, I’ll be a World Champion. I’m excited. 

“He was undefeated and he was in shape preparing to fight. It was a risk, he had the world at this feet. It felt like a normal show, even with everyone spread out. It felt good. I’m really excited to watch it all back. That’s five stoppages on the trot. I’m feeling good and I want to keep the KO run going. It was good to shake out and make the weight. I had a good training camp and we’ll just build off that for the next one.”

10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest 
HUGHIE FURY WUD10 (100-90 x2, 99-91) v MARIUSZ WACH
(Manchester, England)                                  (Krakow, Poland)

Hughie Fury overcome a gaping cut as he defeated Mariusz Wach on points to keep alive his hopes of another World Heavyweight Title fight. The 26-year-old suffered a nasty gash over his left eye, but still managed to control Wach with his clever skills to earn a unanimous decision win with scores of 100-90,100-90 and 99-91, continuing his climb back up the rankings. 

“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Fury told Matchroom afterwards. “I did rush my work a little bit. I was hurting Wach with the right hand. I was getting to him. As I threw the right hand in the fourth there was a clash of the heads as he came in. I couldn’t see out of the eye at all. I went back into the corner and my dad told me to get back to my boxing. Wach is a tough man. We just relaxed and flowed back into it, and picked him off. 

“I don’t have any doubt in Kerry Kayes. He’s a guardian angel. As soon as I got back to my corner he got to work. He deserves all of the credit in the world. I’ve been in with everyone, and to be honest with you, I was like a boy against men. Now I’m a man people can see a big difference, and I’m coming. This is just the start. People will see a lot more to come from me.”

10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title
MARTIN BAKOLE WUD10 (98-92, 97-93, 96-94)v SERGEY KUZMIN
(Kananga, Congo)                                                     (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Martin Bakole outpointed Russia’s former amateur standout Sergey Kuzmin to land the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title.

The Congolese fighter, who is based in Scotland with trainer Billy Nelson, neutralised Kuzmin’s aggression with his accurate jab as he earned a unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.

“I want to thank god for this big victory,” Bakole told Matchroom. “To be honest, I’m not happy. I didn’t work the way I was supposed to work. I did three weeks in the gym. We kept that a secret. I was not 100% fit. I won the belt and I’m now WBC International Champion. It was a tough fight. if you look at round 2, I was close to knocking him. He survived because he’s a big guy. I needed to win this belt for my baby. I’m ready now. I’m in the top 10. I’m ready to face anybody. I’m going to see my family and then come back quickly to get in the gym to prepare for next year. 

“I want anyone. I’m ready to face anyone. I’m not in this business to play around. I’m in this business to win and I have a belt now. I told Michael Hunter to watch this fight. My next one is going to be him! Michael Hunter, look at my eyes; let’s do it again. This time I will beat him, believe me. I made a mistake, and now I’ve fixed my mistakes. I’m improving, and he can see that himself. Anthony Joshua is going to beat Kubrat Pulev, believe me!”

10 x 3 mins Super-Welterweight contest
KIERON CONWAY WUD10 (100-89 x2, 100-90)v MACAULAY MCGOWAN 
(Northampton, England)                                        (Wythenshawe, England)

Northampton Super-Welterweight contender Kieron Conway improved his unbeaten record to 16-1-1 (3 KOs) with a dominant points with over late stand-in Macaulay McGowan. 

Conway was originally slated to fight Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho before the Anthony Joshua-managed fighter was forced to pullout last week. 

‘Too Class’ floored McGowan as he sealed a unanimous decision victory with scores of 100-90, 100-89 and 100-89, before calling out the winner of the Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf fight that is slated to take place early next year. 

“I’m content with the performance to be fair,” Conway told Matchroom afterwards. “I just did what I had to do. He was tough as anything. I hit him with everything that I possibly could have. I thank him a lot for stepping in at such short notice. He gave it everything and made it a good fight. As soon as these sharp, accurate and hard punches land, people go on the defensive. It make it a hell of a hard night for them. They just don’t want to keep taking them all night. I was really frustrated about the Cissokho fight, but I’m happy I still got to fight in the end on such a big stage. Job done now and we move on.

“I’m very grateful to get out twice this year. I feel like I’m one of the privileged ones. Especially this kind of opportunity on the big stage. Hopefully there was a good bit of exposure there for me. It was actually quite refreshing having people there shouting. It was nice to have them back. I’m very confident. People underestimate me. As soon as they take one or two stiff shots they just want to make it a hard night and survive. Hopefully I get the winner of Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf. We’re all shouting for that though. I guess we’ll all have to wait our turn. I’m coming, and I’m not going anywhere. I want anyone who wants it. I’m not ducking or avoiding anyone.”

8 x 3 mins International Welterweight contest
FLORIAN MARKUv JAMIE STEWART DRAW (76-76)
(Lushnje, Albania)    (Longton, England)

Florian Marku vented his frustration after he was forced to settle for a controversial draw on his Matchroom debut, despite flooring Jamie Stewart in the second round and forcing the pace throughout the fight. The London-based Albanian has been calling for a Welterweight clash with stablemate Conor Benn and Dillian Whyte’s Chris Kongo, but endured the first blemish on his eight-fight record after referee Marcus McDonnell scored it a 76-76 draw.A disappointed Marku told Matchroom: “This is my life. They give a draw on my record. I didn’t deserve it. I was beating this guy every round. Congratulations to him, he accepted the fight on four days’ notice. He had a tough head. This wasn’t a draw. I put him down in the second or third round. I was outboxing him. He was running sometimes and he was making the jab. What else did he do? He punched me in my guard, nothing else. 

“He can take many punches. He is a tough opponent. This is a shame, a shame for the referee that gave me this draw. I don’t know what I can say. It’s a shame for the sport. They are trying to ruin my career. I feel so disappointed with this decision. The referee doesn’t like me. That is the only justification for this. Maybe because I am from Albania and my opponent was from England? This is my life. He couldn’t handle the pressure and he took many shots to the head. This wasn’t my best performance. I wasn’t as powerful as usual but I was beating him.”

8 x 3 mins Super-Bantamweight contest
QAIS ASHFAQ WTKO4 (0:22)v ASHLEY LANE
(Leeds, England)                         (Bristol, England)

Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq bounced back from his first loss in the pros with a fourth-round stoppage of Bristol’s Ashley Lane.

The 27-year-old 258 MGT talent suffered a points loss to Marc Leach last time out at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, but got his career back on track with an impressive win over former Commonwealth Champion Lane. 

Ashfaq displayed far more aggression as he floored Lane in the first and third rounds before the fight was halted in the fourth, improving his record to 9-1 (4 KOs).

Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Ashfaq said: “It felt great. I was out here to prove a bit of a point, without letting that get into my head too much. I was here to do a job first and foremost. It was great to get the win, and in style. Ashley Lane came over to me just before the decision was announced and he said, ‘listen, I saw your last performance and that’s why I took this fight’. He wanted to see if it was just a bad performance or if I was just saying that. He told me that my last fight was just a bad performance and I’m going to go places. I was here to prove a point and I believe I’ve done that in style. 

“I put him down twice before it was stopped. Just before the stoppage I was waiting for the ref. I was hitting him clean. The ref had to jump in at some point. The referee is there to protect his health. Ashley Lane is no mug, he’s had his best days at my weight. He’d only lost one of his last nine fights before this one, and that was a British Champion who stopped him in 12 rounds. I did it in 4. That’s a lot quicker. Two fights ago he boxed for the British and Commonwealth Titles at my weight. Two fights later I’ve just done that to him. I’m proving a point.”

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JOSHUA VS. PULEV WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

17:10 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK

8 x 3 mins Super-Bantamweight contest
QAIS ASHFAQ 8st 12lbs 4oz v ASHLEY LANE 8st 10lbs 6oz
(Leeds, England)                      (Bristol, England)

followed by

18:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS BOX OFFICE

8 x 3 mins International Welterweight contest
FLORIAN MARKU 10st 6lbs 15oz v JAMIE STEWART 10st 5lbs 14oz
(Lushnje, Albania)                            (Longton, England)

followed by
 
10 x 3 mins Super-Welterweight contest
KIERON CONWAY 11st 5lbs 10oz v MACAULAY MCGOWAN 11st 4lbs 7oz
(Northampton, England)                  (Wythenshawe, England)

followed by
 
10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title
MARTIN BAKOLE 17st 13lbs 6oz v SERGEY KUZMIN 18st 6lbs 7oz
(Kananga, Congo)                            (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

followed by

10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest 
HUGHIE FURY 17st 9lbs 5oz v MARIUSZ WACH 19st 8lbs 6oz
(Manchester, England)            (Krakow, Poland)

followed by

12 x 3 mins vacant WBO International Cruiserweight Title 
LAWRENCE OKOLIE 14st 3lbs 13oz v NIKODEM JEZEWSKI 14st 3lbs 11oz
(Hackney, England)                              (Koscierzyna, Poland)
 
followed by

12 x 3 mins IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles
ANTHONY JOSHUA 17st 2lbs 13oz v KUBRAT PULEV 17st 1lbs 11oz
(Watford, England)                             (Sofia, Bulgaria)
 
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JOSHUA VS. PULEV UNDERCARD UPDATE

The full undercard to Anthony Joshua’s long-awaited return to UK soil against Kubrat Pulev at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday December 12, has now been confirmed. All of the action will be shown 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.

Following Krzysztof Glowacki’s positive COVID-19 test last week, Hackney Cruiserweight star Lawrence Okolie (14-0, 11 KOs) will now take on Poland’s undefeated Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9 KOs).London-based Albanian Welterweight sensation Florian Marku (7-0, 5 KOs) makes his keenly anticipated Matchroom debut in an eight round contest with Derby’s Alex Fearon (9-2) just over a week on from signing promotional terms with Eddie Hearn. Northampton Super-Welterweight contender Kieron Conway (15-1-1, 3 KOs), who was originally slated to fight Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho, will now clash with Wythenshawe’s Macaulay McGowen (14-1-1, 3 KOs) over ten rounds. 

Ramla Ali’s (1-0) second professional fight against Vansea Caballero (3-9-3) has been removed from the show after the Somali-British fighter, who made a winning start to life in the paid ranks in October, returned a positive COVID-19 test.

Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) defends his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), Manchester Heavyweight Hughie Fury (24-3, 14 KOs) returns against Poland’s Mariusz Wach (36-6, 19 KOs), Martin Bakole (15-1, 12 KOs) and Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11 KOs) fight for the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title and Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq (8-1, 3 KOs) looks to return to winning ways against Ashley Lane (14-9-2, 1 KO).
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JOSHUA VS. PULEV CONFIRMED FOR DECEMBER 12

‘AJ’ faces IBF Mandatory Challenger at The O2
Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World Anthony Joshua OBE will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London on Saturday December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all of its nine markets including the U.S.on a show promoted by Matchroom Boxing in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment.
 
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) recaptured his belts and position as the Unified Heavyweight World Champion with a masterful unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on an historical night in December that saw the Heavyweight World Titles contested for the very first time in the Middle East.
 
December 12 will be ‘AJ’s’ first fight on UK soil in over two years, since he defended his crowns with a devastating seventh round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, and the former Finchley ABC man will be aiming to deal with Pulev in style to set up an Undisputed showdown against WBC Champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.
 
Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF’s No.1-ranked Heavyweight Mandatory Challenger, gets his second shot at World honours after his defeat to modern legend Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – the only loss of his 29-fight professional career. He has won six fights in a row since then, including victories over Derek Chisora and an IBF Eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018.
 
The Bulgarian superstar was set to challenge Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017 but was forced to withdraw through an injury and will now get his opportunity to ruin the champion’s plans to face Fury in an all-British blockbuster showdown in the future.
 
“December 12 is the date and once again the Heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK,” said Joshua
 
“The O2 is the original lion’s den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.  I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
 
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the Heavyweight Titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev. “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”
 
“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified World Heavyweight Championship is very special,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s resume is unrivalled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year. 
 
“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become World Champion on Dec 12 but AJ constantly evolves and improves and I expect a dominant performance and a spectacular KO to close out 2020.”

Bob Arum, Top Rank Chairman, said: “Eddie Hearn better watch out. Kubrat Pulev is going to destroy his plan for a Joshua-Tyson Fury unification fight.”

258 Managing Director Freddie Cunningham said: “Anthony again shows his willingness and desire to chase the Undisputed Title with another tough mandatory fight and despite the challenges of making a fight of this scale during these times it is important for AJ to keep momentum. It will be an exciting way to end the year and unique in every way. We will be working with Matchroom to build a card full of 258 fighters to give the fans entertainment throughout the undercard.”
 
John Wirt, President of Epic Sports and Entertainment, said: “Crowd or no crowd, we are coming to AJ’s backyard to claim the titles. Come December 12, there will be no more excuses or delays. I guarantee that it will be an epic battle and that Kubrat will stop AJ inside the distance.”
 
“Anthony Joshua returns to the ring, a year after recapturing his World Titles from Andy Ruiz Jr, and Britain’s Unified World Champion will be determined to reign supreme in a hotly-contested Heavyweight division,” said Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing Development. 

“Kubrat Pulev has proven pedigree, with just that sole defeat to Wladimir Klitschko, and he’ll be hoping to send more shockwaves through the sport with an upset victory, but I know that AJ has been training tirelessly, priming his explosive power for another night of fireworks.

“Tyson Fury will of course be watching – as an Undisputed World Title fight is within touching distance – and AJ cannot afford a slip-up in a blockbuster ending to the boxing year.”

“We’re thrilled to bring the Heavyweight Championship of the World to all DAZN subscribers,” said DAZN EVP Joseph Markowski. “AJ-Pulev will have major consequences for the entire boxing landscape as both men aim to end the year in emphatic fashion.”

DAZN is currently available in the U.S., as well as Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.
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JOSHUA VS. PULEV POSTPONED

Anthony Joshua’s defence of his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev scheduled to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday June 20 has been postponed.
 
A new date for the event promoted by Matchroom Boxing and 258 Management in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports Entertainment is currently being worked on. We will announce any updates in due course and continue to explore the possibility of hosting this fight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
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