December 12th is a big fight day!
Not only is UFC 256 this evening in Las Vegas, but the unified WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is back in the ring for the first time in a year. His opponent will be mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) of Bulgaria. There will also be about 1,000 fans inside The SSE Arena in London, as COVID-19 restrictions have eased in the United Kingdom.
This fight was supposed to happen three years ago, but Pulev withdrew due to injury and was replaced by Carlos Takam. Now the Bulgarian is finally getting his first title shot since losing to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. He’ll be a heavy underdog to Joshua, who bounced back from his shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr by beating him in the immediate rematch.
Join Bloody Elbow for live coverage of the main event, which starts at approximately 5:15 PM ET/2:15 PM PT or later depending on the length of the undercard fights. Play-by-play will only be provided for the main event.
Joshua vs. Pulev card on DAZN (1 PM ET start time, 5:15 PM ET est. main event ring walks)
Anthony Joshua (c) vs. Kubrat Pulev, for Joshua’s IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight championships
Round 1 - We’re underway! It’s a loud 1,000 fans inside the arena. Joshua pawing with that jab. Neither man doing much of anything in the first minute. Pulev with a jab to the body. A jab to the body by Joshua. Jab upstairs by AJ. Another jab by Joshua this time to the stomach. No one committing to an actual power shot really. Joshua misses with a right hand over the top. Hard jab by Joshua to the head of Pulev. Left hook just glances for Pulev. More jabbing from Joshua who has the clear reach advantage. 10-9 Joshua.
Round 2 - Pulev with a good body shot to the body. Tries a clubbing left hook to no avail. Another good jab to the face by Joshua. Combination by Joshua but most of them are blocked and then Pulev with a rabbit punch. Joshua keeps pushing that jab out and it’s having success. Lunging left by Pulev is way off and now he gets clipped with a left. Stinging jab again by Joshua. Little bit of dirty boxing by both and the ref breaks up the clinch. Joshua with a right around the guard but that’s blocked and he misfires on the uppercut. 20-18 Joshua.
Round 3 - Joshua circles away from Pulev’s pressure. Once again there’s some rabbit punching from Pulev. Joshua continues to jab. Sharp straight right by Joshua. Big right hand and a big combo hurts Pulev! Another right hand has Pulev rocked even as he’s smiling. Uppercut by Joshua misses. body shot and a right hand by Joshua. Left hook by Joshua! Pulev showing a chin! Big uppercut and another big uppercut! Pulev turns his back and a knockdown is scored. Here comes AJ going for the knockout. He’s down again after an onslaught of Joshua punches! Surely this can’t go on much longer. Under 20 seconds to go and Joshua is all over him. Joshua misses with the right hand. Inside uppercut by Joshua and Joshua hits Pulev way after the bell. 10-7 Joshua. 30-25 Joshua.
Round 4 - Ref warns both men for the cheap shots after the previous round ended. Stiff pair of jabs by Joshua. Shouldn’t take much for Joshua to get the knockout at this rate. Pulev misses with a right hand and Joshua ties up. Bit of an ugly round right now and it is allowing Pulev to recover a bit. Finally Pulev gets warned for rabbit punching. By the way, Joshua ended up doing the same thing later on. 40-34 Joshua.
Round 5 - Another slow start to this round. More clinching and action-slowing sequences. Pulev with a jab to the body. Hard jab and another right hand by Joshua that snaps Pulev’s head back. Right hand behind the ear catches Pulev and Pulev holds. Two more jabs to the body as Pulev smiles at AJ. 50-43 Joshua.
Round 6 - Pulev looking for that right hand and he’s not even close. Joshua keeping Pulev at bay. Good left hand inside by Pulev. Jab upstairs and downstairs by Joshua. Pulev whiffing some more as Joshua then clinches. More ridiculous rabbit punching from Pulev. It’s been a lot of roughhousing over the last couple of rounds from both men. Hard jab by Joshua. He’s still in cruise control. 60-52 Joshua.
Round 7 - Right hand and a left by Joshua and another right by Joshua. Pulev absorbs two body shots. Joshua with another series of uppercuts. Trying to unleash hell on Pulev and then Kubrat with an uppercut and then his umpteenth rabbit punch. Excellent jabbing by Joshua again. Pulev scores with a right hand. Joshua pops Pulev’s head back with another jab. Uppercut by Joshua just misses. 70-61 Joshua.
Round 8 - FINALLY the ref does some rabbit punch warnings... I think? He’s warning both? WTF? There’s a good right hand by Pulev. Easily one of his best shots of the fight. Three-punch combo by Joshua. More body shots by Joshua. Pulev came forward and Joshua couldn’t land the uppercut or the counter left. He does land a right hand. Joshua continues the body jabbing. 80-70 Joshua.
Round 9 - Pulev charging forward and misses on the right hand. Short jab by Joshua. Big left by Joshua. Snapping left hook by Joshua. Pulev trying to land a haymaker but he just can’t. Four uppercuts by Joshua and Pulev takes them all. They’re jawing at each other after Joshua holds Pulev’s head. There’s another uppercut and Pulev is rocked and he’s down for a third time. He beats the count but Pulev surely doesn’t have much left. Big right hand, down again and surely it’s over! Ref is counting but he won’t make it. There’s the knockout for AJ!
Official result: Anthony Joshua def. Kubrat Pulev by KO, 2:58 of Round 9 to remain WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champion
Lawrence Okolie TKO-2 Nikodem Jezewski at 1:45
Hughie Fury UD-10 Mariusz Wach (99-91, 100-90, 100-90)
Martin Bakole UD-10 Sergey Kuzmin (96-94, 97-93, 98-92)
Kieron Conway UD-10 Macaulay McGowan (100-90, 100-89, 100-89)
Florian Marku D-8 Jamie Stewart (76-76)