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Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev meet in Cardiff, 80,000 expected for October fight

11
Sep

Earlier today, IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev met for the first time at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, the site of their October 28 showdown.

Both men were cordial and greeted each other with a handshake in the President’s Lounge in front of the assembled media to officially announce their heavyweight tussle.

It has been a decade since the stadium was the venue for a boxing match, when it hosted the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler super middleweight unification. It was also the chosen site for the all-British heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno in 1993.

Matchroom Sports Managing Director Eddie Hearn got proceedings underway.

“Just under 80,000 will be inside the stadium when Anthony Joshua makes the fourth defense of his world title,” said Hearn. “Incredible to think of the journey so far. April 29th (Joshua’s knockout of Wladimir Klitschko) was an incredible night. Everybody who witnessed the fight — which was virtually the whole country — will never forget that moment. But his career’s not about one night of boxing. This is a journey, creating a legacy in the sport.

“At 18 years of age, Anthony Joshua decided to follow the sport of boxing. At 19 he won the ABA championships. At 20, he went up and started to become part of the GB squad. At 21, he won silver at the World Championships. Shortly after he won gold at the London 2012 Olympics. At 23, he turned professional. At 25, he won the Commonwealth title. At 26, he won the IBF world title and at 27 he unified the division in front of 90,000 people.

“I can tell you he’s more determined than ever to go on creating history and defend these titles against all comers, mandatories, unifications. What a great fight he has against Kubrat Pulev here on October 28th.

“Kubrat Pulev, No. 3 with the WBC, No. 7 with the WBA, No. 3 with the WBO and the No. 1 challenger, the mandatory for the IBF and No. 3 with the Bible of Boxing, THE RING Magazine.”

Joshua (19-0, 19 knockouts) was first to speak and told Sky Sports cameras and media of his eagerness to return.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring,” Joshua said. “As soon as the fight was over on April 29th, the question was: When next? So we have a date set now.

“It’s been good, I’ve been training ever since. Now we’re back in the gym, we’re at the stage we’re sparring. I’m looking forward to expressing a different approach on my boxing skills. That was a new experience I went through in my last fight. Now I can show what I learnt in my last fight and that’s when I get the chance to show it, on October 28th.”

He feels he’s improved from sharing a ring with Klitschko and is ready to show that against Pulev.

“It’s about finesse, outclassing your opponents, but if I need to go to war, I’ll go to war. But I can do it with ease,” Joshua said. “Sometimes I can be smart and wise and take an opponent out without taking too much punishment, sometimes you have to go to the trenches. That’s something you can’t be taught, thats; part of your character. We showed we have that in abundance. I just look for the win one way or another.

“It’s no problem to get energized once again. Here we go again, this is what I decided to do when I was younger. I’m still a young man, so I’m far from finishing what I’m looking to build. I’ve got a long time to keep on achieving. I’m just honored, privileged to be an ambassador of the sport of boxing. It’s nice too I’m fighting international people, to come to the U.K. to bring great sporting events to the U.K. for the viewers and fans.”

Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) is an experienced campaigner who also boasts elite amateur credentials, including over 300 fights. He fought at five World Championships through out the 2000s, winning bronze in Mianyang, China. He also represented Bulgaria at the Olympics in 2008. He won gold at the 2008 European Championships in Liverpool.

He turned professional in late 2009 and moved quickly, fighting in mainland Europe. In 2012, he secured the European title before besting veteran Tony Thompson in an IBF eliminator to earn a shot at Klitschko the following year.

Klitschko handed Pulev his only loss, dropping him four times, thrashing him in five rounds. Since then, he’s rebuilt his career with five wins, including regaining his old European crown.

Pulev was impressed with Joshua’s performance against the only fighter to have beaten him as a pro.

“The fight was very good,” Pulev said through his translator, Huben Yordanov. “They were equally matched, chances were 50-50.

“I feel great, I know the match will be tough. I feel ready not only physically but mentally for this fight.”

The Londoner appreciates Pulev will come at him as the hungry challenger.

“I like that,” he explained. “Sometimes you can watch a million videos of your opponent, but it’s always different when you step in the ring. I always have to prepare and improve from previous fights.

“I’m starting to understand that when people come to fight me, even if they put up a good account and lay down, they’ll still get a pat on the back and say, ‘You done well.’ So I have to be prepared for the toughest of challenges.”

A full supporting undercard will feature Kal Yafai defending his WBA junior bantamweight title for the second time against his mandatory challenger, the unbeaten Sho Ishida. Katie Taylor will fight Anahi Sanchez for the WBA female lightweight title. Dave Allen and Lenroy Thomas will meet in a rematch for the Commonwealth heavyweight title. Frank Buglioni will face Callum Johnson in a British and Commonwealth light heavyweight contest. And 2016 British Olympians Lawrence Okolie, Joshua Buatsi and Joe Cordina, who will fight for his first title, will also be featured in other bouts scheduled to be announced in due course.

Tickets for the event are priced at £40, £60, £80, £100, £200, £300 and £500 – with VIP tickets priced at £1500 and are available from noon tomorrow at www.StubHub.co.uk

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright