Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua mixed power and patience as he knocked out Kubrat Pulev Saturday night to bolster hopes that a historic fight against Tyson Fury could soon be a reality.
The Nigeria-born British heavyweight champion drilled his mandatory challenger to the canvas twice in round three in a chaotic flurry that saw Pulev smiling while under attack and turning his back when under fire, only to somehow make the bell.
Joshua, perhaps fatigued by the chaos, stepped off the gas and allowed Pulev to at least offer some mild threat, but a barrage of uppercuts in the ninth dropped Pulev and a straight right hand wiped him out seconds later.
The 1,000 fans granted access to Wembley Arena saw a blend of the boxing skills and crushing punches that have helped build Joshua into the attraction he is.
Moments after the fans roared at the prospect of the IBF, WBA and WBO champion facing WBC champion Fury next, Joshua said: “I started this game in 2013, gathered the belts.
“Whoever has the belts I want to compete with. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury.”
In his reaction immediately after Joshua’s victory, Tyson Fury posted a video on social media. In it he says: “I want the [Joshua] fight. I want the fight next. I’ll knock him out inside three rounds.
“There you go everyone. Anthony Joshua got asked if he wanted the fight and he went round the bushes. I want the fight. I want the fight next. I will knock him out inside three rounds. I can’t wait to knock him out.”
Also speaking, legendary boxing promoter, Bob Arum said: “It looks like the stage is set for the biggest Heavyweight championship fight since Ali-Frazier in 1971, when @Tyson_Furymeets @anthonyfjoshuafor the undisputed crown.
“We at Top Rank will start on Monday working to put that fight together,” he stressed.
BBC’s boxing commentator, Mike Castello said:
Joshua pocketed a cool £10million prize pot from his title defence against Pulev on Saturday night.
Despite gate receipts at Wembley’s SSE Arena being limited to just 1,000 due to the Covid-19 restrictions as part of the new regional tier system, Joshua still got a handsome payday in what is his first fight in a year.
Pulev, who came to London as the heavy underdog, earned just £3m from the fight – £7m less than the world champion, according to UK’s The Telegraph.
There were no set purses for the fight, and both men could even exceed those figures with pay-per-view numbers soaring because of the lack of spectators allowed at the event.