Arena Armeec, Sofia - For the WBA Inter-Continental heavyweight title, Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over veteran Kevin Johnson (30-8-1, 14 KOs). The scores were 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109. Pulev is the IBF's mandatory challenger, and in line to face the winner of Saturday's fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
Pulev was in action last December, when he easily wiped out faded former world champion Samuel Peter in a stay busy fight. Prior to that, he captured the EBU title with a twelve round decision over Dereck Chisora last May.
Coming into this fight, Johnson six of his last eight fights - including a TKO defeat to Joshua [the only stoppage loss on Johnson's record].
Pulev controlled the fight from the start, applying pressure and coming forward to push back a defensive Johnson. Johnson was pawing with a lazy jab, but not throwing anything that was forcing Pulev to back away. Pulev was picking his punches and landing accurate blows that got Johnson's attention on more than occasion.
In the third, Pulev started letting his hands go more often as he punned Johnson against the ropes and let his hands go. Johnson would mostly hold to get out of trouble. During the fourth, he was working Johnson over and starting to really hurt him with punches.
Johnson continued to stay against the ropes in the fifth, in a defensive shell, as Pulev was looking for something big to end the fight. Pulev was starting to get a little wild and missing a lot of punches, which was allowing Johnson to get brave with some counters and shots to the body. Johnson was jabbing to Pulev's body in the sixth and then looking for jabs to the head. There was a lot of holding when they came in close and Pulev was unable to land flush shots.
The remainder of the fight was more of the same, with Johnson just staying against the ropes and being defensive as Pulev tired to his best to land as many clean shots as possible. Johnson appeared to get hurt in the closing moments of the eleventh, but held to get out of trouble. Pulev tired his best in the final round, but couldn't get Johnson out of there.