Anthony Joshua is taking a “big risk” in his next world title fight against Kubrat Pulev, but victory will enhance his reputation as a “true champion”, says Sky Sports expert Johnny Nelson.
Pulev has done almost everything right from amateur to professional and he’s earned his chance as a mandatory challenger for Joshua.
He’s been in with Wladimir Klitschko and got stopped of course, but that was one of the best performances by Wladimir back in 2014. It was a clinical win from Wladimir, who seemed unorthodox in comparison to Pulev. The more orthodox you are, the more it suits Pulev down to the ground, because he has that amateur pedigree.
This is one of those fighters where the general public might not be aware who Pulev is, but the boxing public do know all about him. It’s a big risk for Joshua, but he’s got to take this fight, because he will lose his IBF belt if he doesn’t.
I do believe that Anthony will have learned more in that fight against Wladimir than he did in 18 fights beforehand – and he will probably admit that himself. It will have matured him mentally and physically as a fighter, boosting his confidence, and given him more self-belief.
But Pulev does everything correctly and any mistakes from Joshua and he will feel the force. In those 25 wins, he has 13 knockouts, which shows he can box as well as punch. When I see a record like that, they are more fearful than the bangers or the guys who can only win on points. They can hit, they can hurt, and they can box as well.
When you are a champion, you have to think of game-plan to deal with these challengers within three months, whereas these guys have probably been preparing for this fight for years. It’s harder being the hunted than the hunter.
Defeating Pulev – to me – proves that Joshua can cope with all shapes and sizes, no matter what credentials they have, and will deal with every one of them like a true champion.
Watch Joshua vs Pulev, live from the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, October 28, live on Sky Sports Box Office.