Former world title challenger Kubrat Pulev was knocked out by Anthony Joshua in his sole stoppage defeat, but claims that he only lost due to poor preparation for the fight
Joshua lost his unified world heavyweight titles to Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in September, but will get an immediate rematch for the belts this summer. It looks like he will face the Ukrainian on August 13 in Saudi Arabia and the odds have flipped to favour the current champion after Joshua was tipped to win the first bout.
Pulev believes that Usyk will retain his titles when he makes his fourth outing at heavyweight, arguing that despite losing to Joshua by knockout back in 2020, his old rival is “nothing special”. The Bulgarian argues that he was ill-prepared for their London showdown, and that’s why he was stopped.
“When they make a rematch, I think Usyk is going to knock him out because Joshua is nothing special,” Pulev told IFL TV. “I lost against him, but I wasn’t good prepared. It’s my mistake, of course. It’s my fault, but that was the situation. I [regret taking the fight], now I’m a lot of power and energy. Health is most important.”
Pulev is preparing to return to the UK to face Derek Chisora, a close pal of Joshua’s and one of Britain’s most-beloved fighters. He has returned to winning ways since his last trip to London, brutalising UFC legend Frank Mir in a bizarre hybrid-rules bout before taking a comfortable decision over Jerry Forrest last month.
Meanwhile, Joshua has switched up his camp significantly, swapping long-time trainer Rob McCracken for the American Robert Garcia in his head coach role. Garcia has trained 14 world champions and jetted in to London hoping to add three heavyweight belts to his list of accolades.
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Pulev believes that with his new trainer, Joshua must work harder than he did before the first fight, or risk a similar outcome. Usyk is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and last time out appeared to have settled into his new heavyweight division after struggling in his first two outings.
“It’s difficult,” Pulev said in a later interview with Boxing Social. “He has a trainer and he must work hard, and why not? He has a chance, but it’s not easy. It’s not only one or two things, it’s a lot of things. He knows, he’s a good boxer and Olympic champion, this fight is going to be really interesting.”
Usyk had been fighting on the front lines defending his native Ukraine from the Russian invasion in recent months, but left to get into training camp for the rematch. It is expected that the bout will be announced any day now after promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that he was planning an official confirmation early this week.