Joshua to Face Pulev After Sudden Klitschko Retirement

Anthony Joshua (-2500) vs. Kubrat Pulev (+1200), Draw (+3300)

Wladimir Klitschko’s recent decision to retire came as a surprise to the boxing world and officially put an end to one of the greatest eras in heavyweight history. After losing his WBA and IBO titles to Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) in April, Klitschko had been locked in negotiations for a rematch and seemed eager for a chance to reclaim his titles.

But now, with the former champ hanging up his gloves, Joshua is forced to face mandatory challenger and WBA Inter-Continental champion Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs). The IBF allowed Joshua and Klitschko to contest a rematch, but now that the fight has fallen through, Joshua will have to face Pulev as his next opponent. 

According to promoter Eddie Hearn, the fight will “almost certainly” happen and should take place on either October 28th or November 11th. It’s a necessary fight but not exactly an exciting or lucrative one. Outside of Klitschko, there are still quite a few promising heavyweight match-ups available for Joshua — Deontay Wilder (38-0), Luis Ortiz (27-0), Joseph Parker (23-0), but before any of those fights are arranged, he’ll have to go through Pulev. If you’re interested in placing a bet on this bout, here’s what you need to know before laying any money down at the best online sportsbooks.

After losing to Klitschko in 2014, Pulev has gone on to win his last five professional fights. With recent victories against the likes of former WBC champ Samuel Peter and former British champ Dereck Chisora, Pulev has established himself as one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division.

However, his performance against Klitschko should tell you a lot about his chances against Joshua. Pulev was pummeled by the Ukrainian for five rounds, getting knocked down three times before finally being finished by a brutal left hook.

Joshua struggled at times against Klitschko, suffering a potentially fight-ending knockdown in the sixth round. But the Brit rallied and knocked out the two-time world champion to become the new king of the heavyweight division. With 19 fights, 19 wins, and 19 knockouts, the 27-year-old Joshua has the potential to become the next great heavyweight.

At +1200, there’s a lot to be gained from a Pulev victory, but his chances are extraordinarily slim. Like any top-level heavyweight, he has some serious fight-stopping power, but I wouldn’t count on him knocking out Joshua. It’s much more likely that we’ll see him take a beating, much like he did against Klitschko.

Pick: Anthony Joshua (-2500)