Anthony Joshua prepared for 12-round fight – but ready to land knockout blow

Anthony Joshua has warned Kubrat Pulev that Saturday’s world heavyweight title fight could be over quickly.

The pair had to be kept apart on a number of occasions during Friday’s heated weigh-in, with the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO holder booed by the Bulgarian’s entourage before he stepped on the scales.

Concerns this bout at Wembley’s SSE Arena may fail to ignite have been allayed and the Briton is eager to bring back his ruthless streak.

The 31-year-old won his first 20 fights inside the distance, but his last four have brought two victories on points and the notable shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr in June, 2019.

Asked about rival Tyson Fury’s knockout against Deontay Wilder in February, Joshua responded: “Remember that took a long time for Tyson Fury to become destructive.

“I’ve been that destructive ever since I started boxing so I’m just going to do the job in the best way possible because, number one, remaining champion is important and, number two, getting the win is, in whatever fashion.

“But I’m ready for a 12-round fight if that is the case, and if a shot lands and causes a lot of damage I will be looking to take him out – that doesn’t leave someone.

“Once a killer always a killer. I sleep good. Certain people can’t sleep at night because they’re really tuned up for a fight but I must be a good psychopath because I’m sleeping like a baby.”

Joshua’s motivation to produce a statement finish in front of 1,000 spectators will only have increased following a fiery weigh-in.

He pointed in the face of the IBF mandatory challenger several times after Pulev’s team booed and shouted in his direction once he entered the media zone at Matchroom’s bio-secure bubble.

The weigh-in had become a sideshow at this point, but Joshua tipped the scales at 17 stone 2lbs, one pound more than the Bulgarian and three heavier than his last contest against Ruiz Jr in December, 2019.

After 12 months out of the ring, intense sparring has helped the Olympic gold medallist get into shape after watching former champion Wladimir Klitschko do similar six years ago.

Pulev’s only defeat in 29 fights was to Klitschko in 2014 and Joshua knows he is not to be underestimated, especially with the riches on offer of a likely twin showdown with Fury next year.

“The jabbers have done well this year, the ones with the right strategy have done well, the ones who didn’t underestimate anyone,” the Watford-born boxer admitted.

Tale of the tape for Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev
Tale of the tape for Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev

“And that’s why all the questions outside of what’s happening after Saturday night….respectfully I’ll give you the answers but please, right now, in the headlines it’s solely about Kubrat Pulev. My focus is not about anyone else.”

Fury has been the elephant in the room throughout fight week, but the weigh-in switched the focus to the 39-year-old challenger.

Even though a ‘Battle of Britain’ in 2021 appears closer than ever, there are issues to be resolved and not least a victory for the favourite this weekend.

Joshua insisted: “I’m not worried about any comments from any heavyweight at the minute. I never have been.

“Rob (McCracken) taught me that – don’t listen. You know Rob, he’s not trying to be in the limelight and I’m not someone who wants to be badmouthing other fighters. I know how tough this game is. Good luck to them all and until I fight them, they’re irrelevant.”

Trainer McCracken was criticised 18 months ago after Joshua lost his undefeated status at Madison Square Garden, but did help mastermind a disciplined display in the rematch with Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.

It saw his fighter return to the top table of heavyweight boxing and while bigger and more lucrative bouts should lay in wait, there is still a job to do.

McCracken said: “He’s got to be disciplined from round one. Hopefully he gets into a nice rhythm, he starts to box well, then by the middle to late rounds he can start to put things together and look what he is, which is a great fighter.”

McCracken did not go as far as to say the F-word, Fury, had been banned in camp this week, but stressed it was one opponent at a time.

“Anthony Joshua’s ready for anybody,” he said. “But Pulev is a good and dangerous fighter so get Pulev out of the way then the sky’s the limit.”