Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet the Champ as a Big Favorite
Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Britain’s Anthony Joshua, left, and Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.
- Updated betting odds list Anthony Joshua as a massive favorite over Kubrat Pulev on Saturday afternoon in his heavyweight title defense.
- Could this be a trap fight for Joshua against Pulev? We don't think so.
- Here's how to bet Joshua at plus-money with a round prop.
Joshua vs. Pulev Odds
Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) makes his long-awaited return to the ring to make a mandatory defense of his WBA, WBO and IBF titles Saturday in front of 1,000 fans at Wembley Arena.
The champion will have Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KO) standing opposite him in that ring as the 39-year-old attempts to pull the upset against the beloved British champ.
Is this fight a trap matchup for Joshua? Let’s break down the matchup and see where we may find some betting value.
Can Pulev Keep Pace?
On paper, this is a mismatch of epic proportion. However, with Joshua’s 2019 loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. still fresh our collective minds, nothing can be taken for granted. Joshua and Pulev were slated to fight in 2017 before an injury forced “The Cobra” out of the matchup.
Joshua went on to knockout Carlos Takam instead and Pulev has remained on the fringes of the heavyweight division ever since.
The Bulgarian has only fought for the title once, which ended in a fifth-round TKO loss to Wladimir Klitschko. There’s no shame in losing to one of the longest tenured heavyweight champions of all time, but in looking back at that fight, you see that Pulev is overmatched.
At the time, Klitschko was 38 years old (five years older than Pulev), and one year away from the end of his title reign. Despite that, Pulev couldn’t make it six rounds with “Dr. Steelhammer,” who landed nearly as many jabs (21) as Pulev landed in the entire fight.
Fast forward to 2020, Pulev is facing a man with a nearly identical build to Klitschko (AJ is 6-foot-6 with a 82-inch reach), who is significantly younger and a much harder puncher. Joshua isn’t a perfect fighter by any stretch, but he is several tiers ahead of Pulev among the heavyweights in the division.
Joshua ranks well above all heavyweights in CompuBox’s Plus/Minus rating (+11.4), which takes into account each fighter’s accuracy in comparison to his opponent. While Pulev is a more active fighter than Joshua (44.2 punches thrown per round to Joshua’s 37.6), the champ has a significant edge over Pulev in total connect percentage (+6.2%) and power connect percentage (+11.2%).
Again, boxing matches aren’t fought on paper, but it’s tough to see a path to victory for Pulev that doesn’t involve a complete lapse like what we saw from Joshua at Madison Square Garden in 2019.
Joshua vs. Pulev Betting Pick
Joshua’s moneyline odds have actually come down a bit over the past few days, but at -800 (88.89% implied odds) there’s no value in betting Joshua straight up. 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.
Pick: Joshua in Rounds 5-8 (+200)