Anthony Joshua has retained his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles after a ninth round knockout win against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev inside the SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday night.
Pulev was floored four times in a dramatic and entertaining contest, which will hopefully set up an undisputed fight between Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury next year.
The fight began with a cagey opener as both men appeared hesitant and exchanged jabs.
In round two, Joshua began to open up and fired off a combination of hooks and uppercuts.
Pulev absorbed a number of body jabs as he tried to close the distance.
The fight exploded into action in the third as Joshua hammered Pulev with a hard right hand and followed up with a series of power punches.
Pulev initially laughed in response but then turned his back and was smashed into the ropes by a follow-up combination, prompting a count from the referee.
Pulev fought on but was once again floored, this time by a giant uppercut from Joshua, remarkably, he recovered to his feet for a second time and survived the round.
At the start of the fourth, Joshua ensured that he would not suffer from the same mistakes as he did in his defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr as he attacked cautiously, knowing his opponent was still strong.
This followed into round five and opened up opportunities for Pulev who landed two significant right hands.
As they approached the halfway point, the challenger appeared to be growing in confidence and had the champion on the back foot.
Pulev was also warned multiple times for rabbit punching in the clinch.
In the seventh, Joshua planted his feet and fired consecutive uppercuts at the Bulgarian who again stood firm.
Pulev caught the champion with a right hand in round eight and appeared occasionally dangerous, just as his opponent did vulnerable.
But Joshua found another knockdown in round nine and then ended the night with a brutal right hand which put Pulev down for the count.
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