Kubrat Pulev and Jerry Forrest may go down in boxing history – but not for any positive reason.
Pulev, the heavyweight contender from Bulgaria, dominated Jerry Forrest of Louisiana to win a unanimous decision on the Sergey Kovalev-Tervel Pulev Triller Fight Club undercard at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California.
The judges turned in scorecards of 98-92, 99-91, and 99-91, all for the 41-year-old Pulev, who landed his right hand at will against the often clumsy, but tough, Forrest, 34.
The 10-round heavyweight bout was one-sided and largely pedestrian. But it was overshadowed by a bizarre and frustrating debacle that happened behind the scenes.
There was a significant, hours-long delay to the fight because of a kerfuffle that happened in the locker room. Forrest’s gloves of choice did not fit his hands, prompting the search for another pair that required the approval of Pulev. A representative of the California State Athletic Commission said that they asked Forrest to remove his hand-wraps to see if the gloves would fit, but upon doing so Forrest still could not get his hands to fit inside the gloves.
After much deliberation, much to the chagrin of the spectators, the decision was made to allow Forrest to use Pulev’s own back-up gloves from Grant, a brand popular with professional boxers.
“We’re lending our gloves to Jerry Forrest,” Pulev’s promoter Ivaylo Gotzev said during the Triller broadcast. “He’s gonna fight in Grants. We presented Jerry Forrest with the largest gloves ever made.”
When the fight finally went underway, both fighters entered the ring to a chorus of boos.
In the 10th round, Forrest came out on the front foot. A subdued Pulev found it harder to land his right hand. Forrest seemed to stagger Pulev with a sweeping left. But Pulev came back to land a right of his own.
Forrest showed some grit in the ninth round, connecting on a straight left on Pulev. Midway through the round, Pulev began bleeding from his left eye. Both fighters were otherwise sloppy and keen on holding.
A ring doctor examined Forrest before the eight round, but decided that Forrest was still fit to continue fighting. Pulev went to batting practice on Forrest in round eight, with Forrest doing nothing more than leaning back against the ropes. Forrest managed to briefly stagger Pulev with a right hook right before the end of the round.
In the seventh, Pulev continued to punish Forrest with right hands. Forrest looked like he was sleepwalking at times. With a little more than a minute to go, Pulev rammed Forrest with a booming overhand right – but Forrest somehow absorbed it. Pulev then followed up with several unanswered right hands. Pulev connected on another emphatic right hand to end the round.
Forrest started off the sixth round in a better state than in the previous couple of rounds, but he was still a sitting duck for Pulev’s right hands.
In the fifth, Pulev repeatedly found a home for his right hand. A fatigued Forrest looked increasingly discombobulated. Pulev punctuated the round with another right uppercut.
Pulev took over in the fourth round. He landed a pair of stiff right hands in the first minute of the fourth round. He then stunned Forrest with a straight right. A noticeable tired Forrest ate another right hand. With a minute to go, Pulev unloaded a barrage of punches while Forrest was on the ropes. Pulev landed a trio of right hands to end the round. Forrest stumbled back to his corner, his mouth agape.
In the third round, Forrest countered with a well-timed straight left hand that seemed to buckle the knees of Pulev. The Bulgarian was not hurt, though, and continued to press Forrest. Pulev connected on a right hand that backed Forrest into the ropes. Pulev followed up with a right uppercut, leading to a brief exchange at the end of the round.
The second round started out similarly to the first. With a minute to go, however, Pulev connected on a hard right hand that caught Forrest’s attention, causing him to hold.
In the opening round, Forrest and Pulev took to trading jabs, with Pulev pressing the action. Forrest connected on a hard straight left to the body midway through the round.
This was Pulev’s first fight since his ninth-round stoppage loss to then unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in 2020 at Wembley Arena in London, England.
Forrest was coming off a disputed split draw against heavyweight contender and Olympian Michael Hunter last December in a fight that many observers believed Forrest should have won.