Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua retained his IBF, WBO and WBA belts with a devastating ninth round knock out of Kubrat Pulev to bolster hopes that a historic fight against Tyson Fury for undisputed status could soon be on the cards.
The bout at the Wembley Arena had 1,000 fans in attendance and they were treated to a spectacle of boxing skills and crushing punches in what was Joshua’s first fight in over a year.
Joshua dropped the 39-year-old Pulev to the canvas twice in round three with a barrage of punches but the mandatory challenger survived and somehow made the bell.
The subsequent rounds were more even as Joshua stepped off the gas and Pulev showed some aggression, but a flurry of uppercuts in the ninth dropped the Bulgarian and a straight right hand wiped him out seconds later for only the second loss of his 30-fight career.
About the prospect of facing WBC champion Fury next, Joshua said: “I started this game in 2013, gathered the belts.
“Whoever has the belts I want to compete with. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury.”