By Keith Idec
In hindsight, Kubrat Pulev realizes he wasn’t ready to challenge Wladimir Klitschko three years ago.
The Bulgarian contender was undefeated at the time, but he wasn’t as prepared as possible to dethrone the long-reigning heavyweight champion in his first world title fight. Klitschko knocked out Pulev in the fifth round of their November 2015 bout in Hamburg, Germany, a little more than a year before British underdog Tyson Fury upset Klitschko.
“I see now that I was not ready for Klitschko,” Pulev told Sky Sports for a story posted to the network’s website Thursday. “Maybe I was too young, but now my preparation is much better. I feel stronger and I am ready.”
The 36-year-old Pulev will get his opportunity to redeem himself two weeks from Saturday night. Pulev will challenge England’s Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) for his heavyweight titles October 28 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales (Sky Sports Box Office; Showtime).
Joshua overcame a sixth-round knockdown to stop Klitschko in the 11th round of his last fight, an unforgettable, back-and-forth slugfest April 29 at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London. Pulev believes he, too, took invaluable lessons from his own fight against Klitschko.
“From one loss, a man learns more than when he wins,” Pulev said. “When you win, you think you are number one and nothing more is needed. A loss makes you do more and more.”
As impressive as Joshua was against Ukraine’s Klitschko, Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) has noticed plenty of flaws in the 27-year-old knockout artist from Watford, England.
“I see what he does well and what he does badly,” Pulev said. “I study him. Everyone must learn more, whether it’s myself, AJ or anyone else. When one man says that he knows everything, he is lying.”
Pulev thinks Klitschko took Joshua lightly, a mistake he obviously isn’t in position to make.
“When Klitschko fought AJ, it was 50/50,” Pulev said. “But he did not prepare properly. He thought he would beat Joshua no problem. You learn from losses. I enjoy my training now and my preparation has been concentrated, strong and smart. I’m ready.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.