Anthony Joshua is a big favourite to overcome Kubrat Pulev on Saturday night, but the champion must not overlook his mandatory challenger. The unified heavyweight king is seen to be one fight away from the undisputed clash with Tyson Fury and cannot afford to slip up. Joshua, whose last fight was in December 2019, knows the test awaiting him at Wembley Arena. “In terms of the time I’ve had off, I’ve had to toughen myself up again and get used to taking punches to the head and body and getting my hands strong again, and just getting myself prepared for a tough fight on December 12,” he told William Hill. “Pulev’s experienced. He’s 39 now. What I’ve learnt from facing experienced fighters such as Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko is that they can still be lively and do a lot of damage. At that age, the last thing you lose as a heavyweight is your power. He’s got that power. “I’ve noticed from the analysis that he’s dropped a few guys with the jab. He’s very balanced so if you attack him and you’re not balanced then you can fall into his range. I’ve got to make sure that my attacks are spot on because he’s very good at punching opponents who make mistakes. “He’s well experienced as well and has been in there (the ring) with good fighters. He’s got two other things: good work rate, where he’s used to going 12 rounds, and the last thing is he’s got a really good body shot as well.”

What boxing legends say Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte – Joshua win

Whyte told SkyBet: “You know what? It is a runout for Joshua. “He’s just had two hard fights back to back, emotionally more than physically. “So smart business, the Pulev fight. Pulev is old now and he was never really great in his heyday. “He [Joshua] is happy to take care of his mandatory duties. So it’s a keep-busy fight.” Joshua beat Whyte in 2015

Ex-Heavyweight Champion David Haye – Joshua win

Haye told Sky: “I definitely think it’s a good fight for AJ. “Big, Eastern-European guy who stands up straight, very tall, very strong, only ever lost to Klitschko. “And in that fight he had a good go against Klitschko. So he’s got the power to cause some issues for people. “He’s a rough tough guy that AJ will need to be in his best form for. “But, if he is, I think he wipes the floor with Pulev. I think he’s significantly better.”

Ex-World Champion Chris Eubank Sr – Pulev win

Eubank told the Express: “There are a few important variables that are important in this fight. “Firstly, the way each fighter internalises this pandemic is an issue on top of what the fighters already have to manage. “So much already depends upon this fight; the COVID factor adds an extra dimension to what in isolation is always harrowing. “All things being normal, AJ has the better boxing IQ as proven in his contest against Andy Ruiz Jr, in a rematch I couldn’t see him winning because I thought he would try to use his power. “Instead, he used his boxing IQ and took the championship titles back in impressive boxing form. If all is normal then AJ is no doubt the favourite. “But because nothing is normal in these peculiar times, I suspect Pulev might win this fight and if I were a betting man, which I’m not, that’s where my money would be.”

Ex-Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker – Joshua win

Parker told SecondsOut: “I know Pulev will come game, that’s a fight he’s wanted for a while. “But Joshua, we’ve seen him come back from losing to Andy Ruiz and putting on a good display of boxing. “I think he’ll just be too quick and too experienced.” Joshua beat Parker in 2018

Ex-Cruiserweight Champion Tony Bellew – Joshua KO

Bellew told talkSPORT : “You always have to take into consideration these heavyweights. “Believe you me, this fella has an amateur pedigree far better than Andy Ruiz. Kubrat Pulev was an outstanding amateur. “He’s coming to win. He is a really good fighter – very, very powerful with the right hand. “AJ’s just better than him in every department for me. I just think the speed will be too much and he will catch up with him pretty quickly. “He’s just got to be vary careful of getting into exchanges in the first couple of rounds – that’s the only chance Pulev stands is them first couple of rounds. “But, as I say, AJ’s quicker, he’s more powerful, he’s more explosive. I can only see an AJ knockout between four and six rounds.”

Pulev’s promoter Bob Arum – Pulev KO

Speaking on the Gary Newbon Sports Show, Arum said: “I’m involved with everybody, including Eddie [Hearn]. “I said ‘don’t make plans so quick for a Fury- Joshua fight because I think Pulev is going to beat Joshua.’ “Let me explain my theory. Joshua got knocked out by Andy Ruiz, who is not a puncher, never been a puncher, and I know that because thirty odd fights that Ruiz had, we promoted. “He has quick hands, he’s not a bad heavyweight, but he’s not a puncher. He devastated Joshua and knocked him out. “So I think Joshua is still vulnerable and Pulev is a real tough, rugged heavyweight.”


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