Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev are set for the final significant heavyweight fight of 2020.
The unified heavyweight title fight tops a seven-fight bill which airs live on Sky Sports Box Office in the United Kingdom and DAZN in the United States, live from SSE Arena, Wembley. The official weigh-in session is a mere formality for heavyweights, though both boxers shared plenty of harsh words on the stage and had to be physically restrained on at least two occasions.
Watford’s Joshua (23-1, 21KOs) checked in at a stacked 240.8 pounds, nearly four pounds heavier than when he weighed a lean 237 pounds in his multi-title regaining effort over Andy Ruiz last December in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Bulgaria’s Pulev (28-1, 14KOs) weighed 239.7 pounds, nearly nine pounds lighter than when he weighed 248¼ pounds in a 10-round win over Rydell Booker last November in Fresno, California.
Saturday’s contest marks the first fight for Joshua since his aforementioned win over Ruiz, which avenged the lone loss of his career. Joshua was stopped in the 7th round of their first fight last June at Madison Square Garden in New York City, ruining his U.S. debut and also destroying the pristine record of the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and the leading heavyweight in the world at the time.
Pulev has won eight straight in making his way back to the title stage. A member of the 2008 Bulgaria Olympic boxing team which competed in Beijing, the now 39-year old contender suffered his lone defeat in a November 2014 knockout loss to then-lineal champion Wladimir Klitschko. Pulev weighed 247 pounds for that contest.
This very matchup was originally due to take place in October 2017, only for Pulev to withdraw due to a wrist injury suffered during training camp. He made his way back to the mandatory position following a 12-round win over Hughie Fury (who faces Mariusz Wach on Saturday’s undercard) in October 2018, marking time with wins over Bogdan Dinu and Booker while waiting out Joshua’s two-fight set with Ruiz.
Lawrence Okolie moves forward with his place in the chief support, though it no longer comes with the dream of capturing his first major title. A member of the 2016 Great Britain Olympic team which competed in Rio, Okolie (14-0, 11KOs) faces Poland’s Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9KOs), a late replacement for countryman Krzysztof Glowacki (31-2, 19KOs) who tested positive for COVID-19 which in turn removed the title status from Saturday’s contest.
Hackney’s Okolie tipped the scale at 199.8 pounds. Jezewski—a 29-year old from Koscierzyna, Poland—came in a fighting fit 199.7 pounds for a bout he accepted less than a week ago.
Hughie Fury and Mariusz Wach are both in search of a second straight win as they collide in a 10-round heavyweight clash.
Manchester’s Fury (24-3, 14KOs)—the less established cousin of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury—weighed 247.3 pounds; Krakow, Poland’s Wach (36-6, 19KOs) checked in at 274.35 pounds.
Martin Bakole (15-1, 12KOs) aims to extend a four-fight win streak as he faces rebounding Sergey Kuzmin in a scheduled 10-round regional title fight.
Bakole—a 6’6” heavyweight from the Republic of Congo who is now based in Airdrie, Scotland—weighed 251.4 pounds. Russia’s Kuzmin (15-1, 11KOs; 1ND) weighed 258.45 pounds for his first fight in 15 months. Michael Hunter is responsible for the lone loss on both of their ledgers, beating Bakole by 10th round stoppage in October 2018 and cleanly outpointing Kuzmin last September.
Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21KOs), vs. Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14KOs), —12 rds., heavyweight
Lawrence Okolie (14-1, 11KOs), 199.8 vs. Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9KOs), 199.7—10 rds., cruiserweight
Hughie Fury (24-3, 14KOs), 247.3 vs. Mariusz Wach (36-6, 19KOs), 274.35—10 rds., heavyweight
Martin Bakole (15-1, 12KOs), 251.4 vs. Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11KOs; 1ND), 258.45—10 rds., heavyweight
Kieron Conway (15-1-1, 3KOs), 160 vs. Macaulay McGowan (14-1-1, 3KOs) 158.45—10 rds., middleweight
Florian Marku (7-0, 5KOs), 146.95 vs. Jamie Stewart (2-0, 0KOs) 145.9—8 rds., welterweight
Qais Ashfa (8-1, 3KOs), 124.2 vs. Ashley Lane (14-9-2, 1KO), 122.4—8 rds, jr. featherweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox