2020 may be winding down, but as far as championship boxing is concerned, it’s heading out with a bang rather than a whimper. Fresh on the heels of Errol Spence Jr.’s world welterweight title defense against Danny Garcia, all eyes will be set on the SSE Arena in Wembley, London as another global superstar puts a pile of belts on the line. Anthony Joshua is set to defend his WBO, WBA, and IBF heavyweight championships for the first time since regaining them last year against Andy Ruiz Jr. This time, his opponent is Bulgarian bruiser Kubrat Pulev, an absolute wall of a man who will be far from an easy out even for a knockout artist who looks the part as much as AJ does. With that in mind, it’s time for CanadianBettingSites to make our Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev picks, including moneylines, method of victory, and over/under total rounds.
Unified Heavyweight Championship: Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev
One year ago in Saudi Arabia, Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz in June 2019 by doing exactly what he felt he needed to do: play smart by playing it safe, not trying anything cute, and patiently out-boxing a smaller, less skilled opponent. He won’t have that same luxury against the IBF’s mandatory title challenger — “The Cobra” will be giving up far less height and reach to AJ than the pleasantly rotund Ruiz did.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that the statuesque Brit shouldn’t be considered a strong favorite to retain those three world heavyweight championship belts. Pulev has an impressive gas tank despite his 39 years of age, but the champ boasts a distinct advantage both in his overall toolset and ability to finish guys off with opportunistic power.
Pick Anthony Joshua (1.1) to prevail against Kubrat Pulev. A $20 wager at William Hill cashes out for $22.
Best Kubrat Pulev Upset Pick vs Anthony Joshua
Let’s make the case for the Cobra: He’s built like a brick house, his stamina isn’t in doubt, and the only loss in his 29-fight professional career came against an all-time legend in Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua did get knocked out and embarrassed by an unsung Ruiz. Pulev has gone up against taller heavyweights like Bogdan Dinu and Hughie Fury and taken care of business. He’s got the ring IQ and precision jab game to steal rounds. He’s a virtual lock to deny AJ the option to stick and move like he did last December in the Ruiz rematch.
And don’t think the big guy isn’t feeling disrespected by the oddsmakers and ready to prove them wrong.
If you fancy a Pulev upset (8.5), a $20 bet at Bodog pays out a handsome $170.
Joshua vs Pulev Method of Victory
After watching him execute a conservative game plan in his last fight, Joshua’s legions of fans across the UK and beyond are surely clamoring for a bang-bang performance more reminiscent of the rise to stardom that saw him knock out 21 of his first 22 professional opponents, most of them inside of seven rounds. That won’t be as simple as a walk in Wembley Park this time around, however, as AJ isn’t that same undefeated twentysomething anymore. Pulev will force him to reach deep into the ol’ bag of tricks, and he won’t be able to dance around the ring and pick his spots at his own chosen pace. The Cobra is liable to force a man into the corner and strike with crisp combinations if he’s not careful.
With that in mind, this fight has a good enough chance to go the distance that the betting upside should not be ignored.
There’s attractive value in picking Joshua to win by decision. A winning $20 bet at top sportsbooks redeems for $101.
Joshua vs Pulev Over/Under 6.5 Rounds
It’s been four years since a Pulev fight didn’t make it to Round 7. That’s a magic number for Joshua, too, but not at all in the same way: his upset loss to Ruiz and the KO victory over Alexander Povetkin that preceded it both ended in the seventh round. Given Pulev’s status as a more or less immovable object, don’t be surprised if he pushes things into the championship rounds even if he’s outgunned and outclassed by the younger, slicker champ.
Bang the over on 6.5 rounds (1.73). A $20 bet at William Hill cashes for $34.60.
Hughie Fury vs Mariusz Wach
Nobody is going to confuse Hughie Fury for his cousin, Tyson, the lineal and WBC heavyweight champion of the world.
At the same time, nobody’s going to confuse 40-year-old Mariusz Wach for Muhammad Ali.
Hughie has never been afraid to fight big names who hit hard — his three career defeats to date came against Pulev, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin, all world champs. He’s not about to be caught off-guard by a middle-aged man who’s lost four of his last seven on the trot.
Pick Fury (1.67) to take care of business against Wach. A winning $20 wager pays out $23.33 at BetOnline.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 6, 2020
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin
Yes, more heavyweights! Martin Bakole Ilunga is a reasonable favorite in this one, having rattled off four straight knockout victories since suffering his first career defeat against Michael Hunter in October 2018. The Congolese puncher brings a three-inch height advantage over Sergey Kuzmin, but interestingly, the latter owns a win against Hunter.
All told, however, Kuzmin simply hasn’t faced competition consistently strong enough to make him a logical upset pick in London.
Take Bakole (1.36) over Kuzmin. A $20 bet cashes for $27.19 at Bet365.