Thursday, December 01, 2022  |


Who wins Wladimir Klitschko vs. Kubrat Pulev?

Wladimir Klitshcko (L) with Kubrat Pulev. Photo by Joern Pollex - Bongarts/Getty Images.

Wladimir Klitschko (L) with Kubrat Pulev. Photo by Joern Pollex – Bongarts/Getty Images


Upsets happen in boxing.

Just ask Ruslan Provodnikov, Shawn Porter and Luis Carlos Abregu.

Provodnikov was dethroned as WBO junior welterweight titleholder in June by Chris Algieri, this despite having floored the undefeated New Yorker twice in the first round and closed his right eye entering the 12th round. Porter was unanimously decisioned and dethroned as IBF welterweight titleholder by Kell Brook in a clash of unbeatens in August.

The hard-hitting Abregu had lost only once, by unanimous decision to two-division beltwinner Tim Bradley, before being stopped for the first time in his career by Sadam Ali, who floored Abregu once each in the sixth and final round of last Saturday’s ninth-round technical knockout victory.

It was by a total of 21-0 that Porter was picked by THE RING’s panel of insiders to defeat Brook and 16 of 19 figured Abregu would vanquish Ali, with 10 believing Ali would get knocked out.

But as big as the aforementioned upsets were, Kubrat Pulev (20-0, 11 knockouts) defeating RING/IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (62-3, 52 KOs) on Saturday would rank as one that would rival any in the sport’s history.

The 6-foot-4 Pulev (20-0, 11 knockouts) has won five of his past six bouts by knockout and was last in the ring in April, registering his second consecutive stoppage victory against Ivica Perkovic, doing so in the third round.

Three of Pulev’s biggest wins were an 11th-round stoppage of Alexander Dimitrenko in May 2012, an 11th-round knockout of Alexander Ustinov in September 2012 and a unanimous decision over two-time title challenger Tony Thompson in August 2013.

By comparison, the 6-6 Klitschko, 38, has twice knocked out Thompson, doing so in the 11th round in July 2008 and in the sixth round in July 2012. In his last fight in April with Pulev sitting at ringside, Klitschko made his 16th straight defense with a fifth-round knockout of Alex Leapai, whom he dropped once in the first round and twice in the fifth.

The clash with Pulev is to represent Klitschko’s 26th title fight overall and the champion is 23-2 over that stretch thus far. His record of 21 defenses ranks second only to that of the 25 (all consecutive) by the legendary Joe Louis, having already surpassed the 20 by Larry Holmes.

The results of the poll taken from 23 insiders regarding Klitschko-Pulev are as follows.


Marc Abrams,

Wladimir Klitschko SD 12 Kubrat Pulev: I will lean toward Wladimir Klitschko. This will be a very tough fight as Kubrat Pulev has a terrific pedigree and size to compete with Klitschko. I think Pulev gives Klitschko some trouble and an upset would not shock me. But I will take the champion via split decision.

Record: 3-1 [Last pick: Bernard Hopkins SD 12 Sergey Kovalev]


Jake Donovan,

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: I’d have been more inclined to pick an upset two years ago when Kubrat Pulev entered his optimal prime and emerged as a leading contender.

The unbeaten Bulgarian looked good enough against the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko and especially Alexander Ustinov to prompt contenders such as Tomasz Adamek and Tyson Fury to go in another direction rather than face him in a final eliminator.

Still, a win over Tony Thompson and two weak tune-ups isn’t the best way to have spent the past two years. Wladimir Klitschko won’t be able to bully Pulev but should bank enough rounds to win a comfortable decision.

Record: 22-7 [Last pick: Kovalev W 12 Hopkins]


Norm Frauenheim, THE RING magazine,

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev is bigger and tougher than Wladimir Klitschko’s last couple of opponents. True and true. But that doesn’t mean we’ll witness an end to King Klitschko’s reign. Big and tough should make Pulev’s challenge interesting.

But only one combo matters. Klitschko’s heavy jab and heavier right will land, especially against Pulev, who often drops his hands. A careful Klitschko will keep his distance and let the punishing combination unlock a scorecard victory.

Record: 24-8 [Last pick: Kovalev UD 12 Hopkins]


Jeffrey Freeman, www.KODigest.TV

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: Most boxing fans wouldn’t know it or care to know it but Kubrat Pulev is actually the legitimate No. 1 contender in the heavyweight division. The undefeated Bulgarian challenger has a track record of attacking and taking down giants.

If he tries that against Wladimir Klitschko, he’ll be jabbed and otherwise kept at bay by any means necessary. The harder Pulev tries to win, the more Klitschko will try to not lose. It’s as simple as that.

Boxing is like chess to King Klitschko and so long as he castles to avoid check or mate, he’s still in the game and still heavyweight champion of the world. HBO should have learned their lesson from the last Klitschko “fight” it aired against Alexander Povetkin. It was awful. So too will this be.

Record: 19-12 [Last pick: Luis Carlos Abregu UD 10 Sadam Ali]


Tom Gray,

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 10 Kubrat Pulev: As much as I don’t really appreciate the heavyweight division, there is no denying Wladimir Klitschko’s complete – if tedious – dominance. In non-descript title defenses, Klitschko tends to go through the motions and win with minimum effort. However, Kubrat Pulev, like David Haye, has his full attention.

That spells trouble for the challenger, who is likely to encounter the best version of the Ukrainian superstar from the opening bell. I expect the Bulgarian native to have very little success and he’ll be worn down by a stream of accurate jabs and powerful right crosses. Over time, Pulev will succumb to the punishment, suffer a couple of knockdowns and be rescued by the referee.

Record: 23-9 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Kovalev]


Andreas Hale,

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 9 Kubrat Pulev: Another day, another dominant Klitschko performance. Kubrat Pulev is nothing more than yet another victim to add to Wladimir Klitschko’s long list of opponents who fall short.

I could talk about Pulev’s strengths but let’s be honest; unless he can get past that telephone pole jab, his goose is cooked. Standing at 6’4″ with an 80-inch reach, Pulev looks the part. But his pedigree is nowhere near that of the champion. It won’t be fun to watch but it will be another notch under Klitschko’s belt.

Record: 19-8 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Kovalev]


Keith Idec, The Record/

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: Those confident that Kubrat Pulev can pull off an upset point to his back-to-back, 11th-round knockout wins against Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov in 2012. But about the only thing the 6-7 Dimitrenko and the 6-7 Ustinov have in common with the 6-6 Wladimir Klitschko is that they’re taller than the 6-4 Pulev.

Though athletic and probably better than anyone Klitschko has fought since he defeated David Haye three years ago, Pulev punches way too wide sometimes, which will leave him susceptible to Klitschko’s vaunted right hand. Once the unbeaten Pulev tastes a few of those, he’ll settle into survival mode.

Record: 11-6 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Kovalev]


Edward “Revolver” Khabrov, guest/fan, Zaporozhye City, Ukraine

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: I don’t consider Kubrat Pulev a pushover as he’s perhaps one of those few solid, worthy contenders in the current heavyweight division. Pulev has fairly deserved his title shot at Wladimir Klitschko by winning two official IBF title eliminators, beating Alexander Ustinov (KO 11) and Tony Thompson (UD 12). Pulev is the former Olympian with good amateur background and solid fundamentals.

His somewhat awkward style may pose some difficulties for Klitschko in the early rounds though I think that as soon as Klitschko adjusts, he’ll successfully keep Pulev at distance with his piston jab and gradually put his trademark straight one-twos on target. Pulev’s durability might help him to go 12 rounds against Klitschko but the unbeaten challenger will be totally out-gunned and outclassed by a longtime titleholder.

Record: 2-2 [Anthony Dirrell W 12 Sakio Bika]


Diego Morilla, XN Sports

Kubrat Pulev W12 Wladimir Klistchko: It could be just a hunch, it could be wishful thinking – so much for “no cheering from press row” – or maybe it’s just the realization that all great runs must come to an end sometime. And just as it happened with Bernard Hopkins a few days ago against Sergey Kovalev, maybe the time is right for Wladimir Klitschko’s historic run to end as well.

And who could be better suited for the task than a hulking, towering, yet agile fighter from a country with almost no boxing history, who understands that he is 36 fighting minutes away from becoming a national hero and the new face of heavyweight boxing?

The tools are already there: solid boxing skills, respectable power, good footwork and a ton of desire. “The Cobra” will be taking a huge step up in competition but his variety of punches and his initiative will earn him most of the early rounds. Pulev’s deadly counterpunching will carry him to the finish line late in the fight.

Record: 11-7 [Last pick: Kovalev TKO 10 Hopkins]


Jack Obermayer, Fight Fax Inc.

Wladimir Klitschko KO 8 Kubrat Pulev: Under normal circumstances, this would be an exhibition. However, under present circumstances, it should not even be allowed take place, period. Wladimir Klitschko will mosey his way through and than lower the boom on Kubrat Pulev. Klitschko in eight.

Record: 15-3 [Last pick: Nonito Donaire W 12 Nicholas Walters]


John J. Raspanti, Monthly Magazine

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 10 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev is convinced he’s got the tools to defeat undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. He’s undefeated in 20 fights. He’s two inches shorter than Klitschko and will enter the ring weighing roughly the same as the champion.

Many consider him the second best heavyweight in the world. So far, so good. Klitschko will be making the 17th defense of his title. He hasn’t lost a fight since Lamon Brewster stopped him over 10 years ago. Since then, he’s hardly lost a round.

He’s prevailed in 62 of his 65 professional fights, scoring 52 knockouts. He uses his powerful jab to set-up a heavy right hand. It’s common knowledge that Klitschko’s chin is his Achilles’ heel.

Pulev would need to hurt the Ukrainian giant to have a chance. Of his 20 victories, only 11 have been by knockout. I see Klitschko working his left and breaking Pulev down. He’ll hurt the challenger and stop him in round 10.

Record: 22-10 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Kovalev]


Matt Richardson,

Wladimir Klitschko W 12 Kubrat Pulev: Another Wladimir Klitschko fight, another ho-hum defense. Could Kubrat Pulev pull it off? Sure. I think anyone who throws punches and connects could potentially hurt Klitschko.

The key, however, is both throwing those punches and landing them, which seemingly is much more difficult than it appears from the outside. That’s unlikely to happen, especially with the recent refereeing we’ve seen overseas. Klitschko by any means that he wants.

Record: 20-8 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Kovalev]


Cliff Rold,

Wladimir Klitschko W 12 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev has enough talent and skill level to give Wladimir Klitschko a decent challenge but he’s ultimately a little too basic in his attack. Pulev’s lack of proven power decreases his upset chances.

Record: 20-11 [Last pick: Kovalev KO Hopkins]


Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev probably is the most-worthy challenger to Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight titles. Solid amateur background. Good all-around skills. Big (6-4 1/2 and around 250 pounds). However, it will take a special fighter to upset the RING champion, whose fighting system is nearly impenetrable. And Pulev isn’t special.

Record: 17-5 [Last pick: Kovalev KO 10 Hopkins]


Francisco Salazar,

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 11 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev might be successful early but Wladimir Klitschko’s jab and pedigree will come into play sooner than later.

Pulev has been very vocal toward Klitschko and his camp, which might make Klitschko that much more motivated to go for a knockout. I think Klitschko wants to prove he still has it as a dominant heavyweight and will eventually stop Pulev late in the fight.

Record: 6-2 [Last pick: Abregu KO 7 Ali]


Abel Sanchez, trainer of WBA 160-pound titleholder Gennady Golovkin

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: This is a decent fight but it will be uneventful. Kubrat Pulev is not going to surprise us.

Record: 6-5 [Last pick: Hopkins SD 12 Kovalev]


Joseph Santoliquito/THE RING Magazine/ Sports

Wladimir Klitschko KO 7 Kubrat Pulev: Wladimir Klitschko makes easy work of Kubrat Pulev. This guy seems more cranked up over the way his promoting team is being treated than concentrating on the biggest challenge of his career. For Klitschko, meanwhile, it’s business as usual. Lights, HBO cameras this time, and he’s ready to devour another hapless mug. It’s pound city for Klitschko.

Record: 14-0 [Last pick: Floyd Mayweather Jr. UD 12 Marcos Maidana]


John Scully, trainer

Wladimir Klitschko UD 12 Kubrat Pulev: I’m going with Wladimir Klitschko on a very wide unanimous decision over Kubrat Pulev. His jab will carry the day I see him controlling the fight the same way he has controlled most of his other fights.

Record: 14-9 [Last pick: Kovalev W 12 Hopkins]


Rob Soucy,

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 6 Kubrat Pulev: Wladimir Klitschko will go down as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. Even in his late 30s, there isn’t a fighter in the division that can challenge him. Kubrat Pulev is another undefeated fighter who will get hammered by Klitschko inside the distance.

Record: 16-6 [Last pick: Kovalev UD 12 Hopkins]


Bradley Starks, guest/fan, Novato, Calif.

Wladimir Klitschko K0 7 Kubrat Pulev: Kubrat Pulev is an exciting fighter, especially when matched against solid B-level competition. However, none of that will have properly prepared him to face Wladimir Klitschko.

There will be some moments of excitement from the very athletic Pulev but I expect that after four or five rounds of the usual jab-jab-grab approach from Dr. Steelhammer, he’ll walk the sharpshooting Bulgarian into a solid right hand or maybe even a hard, one-two-combo and drop the game challenger in a heap for the count.

Record: 11-2 [Last pick: Kovalev KO 9 Hopkins]


Bob Velin, USA Today

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 6 Kubrat Pulev: Until such time as Wladimir Klitschko fights someone who at least 20 percent of boxing fandom has heard of, his fights aren’t worth the energy it takes to make a pick. But since THE RING is asking, I’ll say Klitschko TKO in six.

I would say TKO 1 or 2 but Klitschko, who I consider one of the great heavyweights, always seems to let his opponents, no matter how bad, stick around for at least five rounds while he toys with them. The big question is, when will we see WK in a fight that really matters? Pulev? Puleez.

Alex Leapai, Francesco Pianeta, Mariusz Wach, Jean Marc Mormeck…C’mon, K2 and the Alphabets, you gotta do better than this. Bring Wlad to the U.S. again and let him fight one of the top American heavyweights while the 38-year-old can still fight. At least fight fans in this country might have a rooting interest. Just sayin.’

Record: 14-5 [Last pick: Kovalev TKO 10 Hopkins]


Charles Villa, guest/fan, Portland, Ore.

Wladimir Klitschko KO 7 Kubrat Pulev: If I told you there was a guy who beat Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov AND Tony Thompson, would you believe that THIS was the guy to beat to Wladimir Klitschko? Yeah, I thought not.

Kubrat Pulev is an unbeaten, large-ish heavyweight, which seems to be the criteria to get a shot at the champ. Other than that, there isn’t much to him. Not counting Bermane Stiverne and maybe Deontay Wilder, there doesn’t seem to be much hope in dethroning the younger Klitschko.

Since he resurrected himself from a shocking loss to Lamon Brewster, no one has been able to decode the reinvented Klitschko. He’s essentially the Bernard Hopkins (style-wise) of the heavyweight division.

Illusive, nullifying opponents’ offense with clinches, punching enough and just at the right moments to win a round and more than likely eventually knock them out. Don’t expect this fight to turn out any different.

Record: 15-10 [Last pick: Kovalev UD 12 Hopkins]


Anson Wainwright,

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 10 Kubrat Pulev: Wladimir Klitschko faces arguably the toughest opponent available to him at this time in the way of Kubrat Pulev. Both come from good amateur backgrounds though Klitschko’s was more prestigious, culminating in gold at the 1996 Olympics.

Pulev measures up nicely to Klitschko, physically, and possesses a solid jab that he’ll look to counter Klitschko with. That said, Klitschko is the better talent with the vast pro experience.

I expect Klitschko to soften up Pulev and to slowly start landing those big right hands. I see him busting Pulev up and stopping the game Bulgarian in the later stages of this one.

Record: 20-9 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Kovalev]


By the near-shutout margin of 22-1, the insiders have picked RING heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to vanquish Kubrat Pulev.


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