Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev Best Picks, Prop Bets & Round Predictions: Look for Late Knockout
Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images. Pictured: Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua.
- Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will square off with Kubrat Pulev and comes in as a huge betting favorite.
- While our boxing crew all like Joshua to win, they've found two different prop bets that offer better value than his moneyline odds.
- You can check out their analysis on those picks below.
The always entertaining unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is back in the ring Saturday against Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory defense of his three title belts on DAZN (Approx. 5:30 p.m. ET). The heavy-hitting Brit will welcome 1,000 fans to watch him go to work at Wembley Arena after a year-long layoff.
With Joshua entering this matchup as such a heavy favorite, our boxing crew is looking at three potential ways to bet (or not bet) this fight. Check out their analysis and picks for Joshua-Pulev below.
Joshua vs. Pulev Best Bets
Raheem Palmer: One year after avenging his shocking TKO loss to Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua (23-1, 23 KOs) is back in the ring to face 39 year old Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs). On the surface, he appears to be a formidable opponent. He comes into this fight on an eight fight winning streak with his last loss coming six years ago in 2014.
However, his last loss tells us a lot about who Pulev really is. He suffered a fifth round knockout loss to Wladimir Klitschko, a fight in which he showed nothing against a Hall of Fame fighter. Against inferior competition, Pulev has gone the distance in three of his last four fights against Kevin Johnson, Hughie Fury, Bogdan Dinu and Rydell Booker. None of these fighters are ranked in the top 20 of boxing heavyweights.
Joshua suffered an upset to AJ Ruiz who has fast hands, a solid chin and power — even if he didn’t exactly look the part. Joshua bounced back to win a 12 round unanimous decision against Ruiz and it appears he’s learned his lesson to not overlook his opponents. He should dominate against an older Pulev who’s taking a step up in class and could be described as “straight up and down, no special effects,” to quote Floyd Mayweather Jr.
His upright stance should provide an ideal target for Joshua who has knocked out his opponent in five of his past seven wins. Joshua is faster and more explosive — this feels like the perfect spot to score a knockdown against a stopgap opponent before fighting Tyson Fury, knock on wood.
Numbers wise I’m not seeing much of an edge, however. We saw a sharp move from under 7.5 rounds to 6.5 and the Joshua by KO is priced at -300, which means he has to win by KO over 75% of the time for you to have an edge. This feels priced properly, so I’ll just sit back and enjoy the fight.
Joshua to win in Rounds 7-12
Michael Leboff: I do think this fight ends with an Anthony Joshua KO, but I don’t think it will come as quickly as people, or the odds, indicate.
When Joshua turned pro in 2013 his mission was pretty clear: Stop everyone in his path until he got to the top. There aren’t any heavyweights on the planet who can combine his power, athleticism and technical skill, so that plan seemed logical as he appeared to be destined for a showdown with Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury to unify the division.
That plan didn’t quite work out as AJ was KO’d by Andy Ruiz 18 months ago at MSG. That fight, and the subsequent rematch, threw Joshua’s career off track forcing him into a rematch with Ruiz before he could hunt Fury.
Joshua showed a new version of himself in his second fight with Ruiz, becoming a stick-and-move fighter and causing the out-of-shape Ruiz to chase him around the ring. It worked to aplomb and perhaps showed Joshua that it’s in his best interest not to rush things in the ring.
With a unification fight with Fury looming, the question becomes whether or not AJ will risk getting caught and losing out on the $200M payday that could come with a fight against “The Gypsy King” in 2021 or beyond.
Pulev’s power doesn’t compare to that of his opponent, but every heavyweight at this level has the potential to stop a fight on a moment’s notice. That said, I’d be shocked if we saw the Bulgarian on the front foot looking for the KO. Instead, I expect “The Cobra” to let his jab — which is best tool — do the work.
Good jabs turn fights awkward and that slows everything down in the ring. If Pulev is able to establish his ground and keep AJ at distance, he will be able to take this fight deeper into the night as it will force Joshua into boxing mode rather than seek-and-destroy mode.
AJ can certainly find an opening and end this fight in the opening round, but I think the value is on backing Joshua to rely more on his brains than his braun coming off the series with Ruiz. A patient Joshua gives his future opponents, Fury specifically, a lot more to think about than if AJ just comes out firing and throws caution to the wind.
My favorite bet on the board is backing Joshua to win in Rounds 7-12 (+200, bet365), but if you don’t have that prop available, I think the Over at 6.5 Rounds (-120) is a fine wager.
Joshua to win in Rounds 5-8
Malik Smith: On Paper this is a mismatch of epic proportion, but with Joshua’s 2019 loss to Ruiz still fresh in our collective minds, nothing can be taken for granted. To be quite honest, there isn’t bet on the board that I absolutely love, but the one I’m eyeing the Joshua winning in Rounds 5-8 at BetMGM.
Joshua had a full year to get his mind and confidence right after an up-and-down 2019. He has settled in at a good size for this fight (240 pounds at weigh-in) and should be as nimble as he was in his rematch with Ruiz compared to the June matchup when he looked slow and weighed nearly 250.
Pulev is almost certainly going to pressure Joshua early in the fight, which will likely wear him down by the middle of the fight. The key here will be whether Joshua can withstand the early bum rush and still land effectively.
Joshua has fought 10 times against top competition. Four of those fights ended between Round 5 and Round 8 and four made it to Round 10 or later. The current distance odds (-400) suggest that this fight does not go to the cards 75% of the time. I’ll back Joshua closing this one out mid-way en route to another title defense.