Anthony Joshua dominated and then floored mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev to score a ninth-round knockout and retain his IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and Ireland and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories on its just-launched Global platform.
With 1,000 ticket-buying fans allowed into the building for the first time at a British fight since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Joshua’s entrance was met by a huge roar from the crowd.
Joshua floored Pulev heavily on three occasions, twice in the final round, and ended the fight with a vicious right hand. The explosive performance from Joshua would have demanded the attention of WBC ruler Tyson Fury – they remain on a collision course to decide an Undisputed Champion in 2021.
Joshua told Sky Sports afterwards: “I started this game in 2013. I’ve been chasing all the belts. I’ve been dealing with mandatories.
“Of course I want the challenge. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about the legacy and the belt. Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It’s no big deal.
“It’s one fight at a time, picking them off one by one. That’s all it’s about for me. I’ve got to stay focused.”
“There’s been a lot of talk,” Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports. “As he said, it’s less talk, more action. Since he came into the office, he wanted to be the Undisputed Champion of the World.
“We’re going to be friendly, we’re going to be nice. We know what we have to do. Starting from tomorrow, we make the Tyson Fury fight straight away.
“It’s the only fight to be made in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in British boxing history.”
Lawrence Okolie swiftly demolished Nikodem Jezewski to stay on course for a WBO Cruiserweight World Title fight next year.
The unbeaten 27-year-old was denied a fight for the vacant WBO belt after Krzysztof Glowacki tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but Okolie made short work of his Polish replacement opponent.
The explosive power in Okolie’s fists was evident in the opening minute as he rattled in a right hand before a body shot sent Jezewski to his knees.
A straight right hand then sent shockwaves through Jezewski’s legs as he tumbled back to the canvas. Okolie would not be denied a quick finish and a right hand sent Jezewski tumbling backwards for a third and final time in the second round.
Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Okolie said: “I’m really happy. I was in the back room thinking I’m really calm and chilled. I just went out there to try and execute what I do every day in the gym. I really came out of the cage. I’m happy to get the win. I’ll have to watch it back, but from the reaction ringside, it seems like it was good. It’s what we’ve been working on. I do it every day in training. It’s about taking it from training to the fight. If I’m able to do what I’m doing in training in my next fight, I’ll be a World Champion. I’m excited.
“He was undefeated and he was in shape preparing to fight. It was a risk, he had the world at this feet. It felt like a normal show, even with everyone spread out. It felt good. I’m really excited to watch it all back. That’s five stoppages on the trot. I’m feeling good and I want to keep the KO run going. It was good to shake out and make the weight. I had a good training camp and we’ll just build off that for the next one.”
Hughie Fury overcome a gaping cut as he defeated Mariusz Wach on points to keep alive his hopes of another World Heavyweight Title fight.
The 26-year-old suffered a nasty gash over his left eye, but still managed to control Wach with his clever skills to earn a unanimous decision win with scores of 100-90,100-90 and 99-91, continuing his climb back up the rankings.
“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Fury told Matchroom afterwards. “I did rush my work a little bit. I was hurting Wach with the right hand. I was getting to him. As I threw the right hand in the fourth there was a clash of the heads as he came in. I couldn’t see out of the eye at all. I went back into the corner and my dad told me to get back to my boxing. Wach is a tough man. We just relaxed and flowed back into it, and picked him off.
“I don’t have any doubt in Kerry Kayes. He’s a guardian angel. As soon as I got back to my corner he got to work. He deserves all of the credit in the world. I’ve been in with everyone, and to be honest with you, I was like a boy against men. Now I’m a man people can see a big difference, and I’m coming. This is just the start. People will see a lot more to come from me.”
Martin Bakole outpointed Russia’s former amateur standout Sergey Kuzmin to land the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title.
The Congolese fighter, who is based in Scotland with trainer Billy Nelson, neutralised Kuzmin’s aggression with his accurate jab as he earned a unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
“I want to thank god for this big victory,” Bakole told Matchroom. “To be honest, I’m not happy. I didn’t work the way I was supposed to work. I did three weeks in the gym. We kept that a secret. I was not 100% fit. I won the belt and I’m now WBC International Champion. It was a tough fight. if you look at round 2, I was close to knocking him. He survived because he’s a big guy. I needed to win this belt for my baby. I’m ready now. I’m in the top 10. I’m ready to face anybody. I’m going to see my family and then come back quickly to get in the gym to prepare for next year.
“I want anyone. I’m ready to face anyone. I’m not in this business to play around. I’m in this business to win and I have a belt now. I told Michael Hunter to watch this fight. My next one is going to be him! Michael Hunter, look at my eyes; let’s do it again. This time I will beat him, believe me. I made a mistake, and now I’ve fixed my mistakes. I’m improving, and he can see that himself. Anthony Joshua is going to beat Kubrat Pulev, believe me!”
Northampton Super-Welterweight contender Kieron Conway improved his unbeaten record to 16-1-1 (3 KOs) with a dominant points with over late stand-in Macaulay McGowan.
Conway was originally slated to fight Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho before the Anthony Joshua-managed fighter was forced to pullout last week.
‘Too Class’ floored McGowan as he sealed a unanimous decision victory with scores of 100-90, 100-89 and 100-89, before calling out the winner of the Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf fight that is slated to take place early next year.
“I’m content with the performance to be fair,” Conway told Matchroom afterwards. “I just did what I had to do. He was tough as anything. I hit him with everything that I possibly could have. I thank him a lot for stepping in at such short notice. He gave it everything and made it a good fight. As soon as these sharp, accurate and hard punches land, people go on the defensive. It make it a hell of a hard night for them. They just don’t want to keep taking them all night. I was really frustrated about the Cissokho fight, but I’m happy I still got to fight in the end on such a big stage. Job done now and we move on.
“I’m very grateful to get out twice this year. I feel like I’m one of the privileged ones. Especially this kind of opportunity on the big stage. Hopefully there was a good bit of exposure there for me. It was actually quite refreshing having people there shouting. It was nice to have them back. I’m very confident. People underestimate me. As soon as they take one or two stiff shots they just want to make it a hard night and survive. Hopefully I get the winner of Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf. We’re all shouting for that though. I guess we’ll all have to wait our turn. I’m coming, and I’m not going anywhere. I want anyone who wants it. I’m not ducking or avoiding anyone.”
Florian Marku vented his frustration after he was forced to settle for a controversial draw on his Matchroom debut, despite flooring Jamie Stewart in the second round and forcing the pace throughout the fight.
The London-based Albanian has been calling for a Welterweight clash with stablemate Conor Benn and Dillian Whyte’s Chris Kongo, but endured the first blemish on his eight-fight record after referee Marcus McDonnell scored it a 76-76 draw.
A disappointed Marku told Matchroom: “This is my life. They give a draw on my record. I didn’t deserve it. I was beating this guy every round. Congratulations to him, he accepted the fight on four days’ notice. He had a tough head. This wasn’t a draw. I put him down in the second or third round. I was outboxing him. He was running sometimes and he was making the jab. What else did he do? He punched me in my guard, nothing else.
“He can take many punches. He is a tough opponent. This is a shame, a shame for the referee that gave me this draw. I don’t know what I can say. It’s a shame for the sport. They are trying to ruin my career. I feel so disappointed with this decision. The referee doesn’t like me. That is the only justification for this. Maybe because I am from Albania and my opponent was from England? This is my life. He couldn’t handle the pressure and he took many shots to the head. This wasn’t my best performance. I wasn’t as powerful as usual but I was beating him.”
Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq bounced back from his first loss in the pros with a fourth-round stoppage of Bristol’s Ashley Lane.
The 27-year-old 258 MGT talent suffered a points loss to Marc Leach last time out at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, but got his career back on track with an impressive win over former Commonwealth Champion Lane.
Ashfaq displayed far more aggression as he floored Lane in the first and third rounds before the fight was halted in the fourth, improving his record to 9-1 (4 KOs).
Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Ashfaq said: “It felt great. I was out here to prove a bit of a point, without letting that get into my head too much. I was here to do a job first and foremost. It was great to get the win, and in style. Ashley Lane came over to me just before the decision was announced and he said, ‘listen, I saw your last performance and that’s why I took this fight’. He wanted to see if it was just a bad performance or if I was just saying that. He told me that my last fight was just a bad performance and I’m going to go places. I was here to prove a point and I believe I’ve done that in style.
“I put him down twice before it was stopped. Just before the stoppage I was waiting for the ref. I was hitting him clean. The ref had to jump in at some point. The referee is there to protect his health. Ashley Lane is no mug, he’s had his best days at my weight. He’d only lost one of his last nine fights before this one, and that was a British Champion who stopped him in 12 rounds. I did it in 4. That’s a lot quicker. Two fights ago he boxed for the British and Commonwealth Titles at my weight. Two fights later I’ve just done that to him. I’m proving a point.”