Can Anthony Joshua avoid upset against Kubrat Pulev?
Preview for this weekend’s world heavyweight title fight
Anthony Joshua makes his long-awaited return to the ring this weekend and all the signs point towards another victory.
But he’s been here before and with a hungry Kubrat Pulev standing in his way, AJ will be wary of another shock defeat.
Joshua’s been out of action for 12 months and he hasn’t fought on home soil since September 2018. He’ll don the gloves at Wembley Arena in front of a limited number of spectators and the odds suggest he’ll make home advantage count.
The 31-year-old can be backed at 1/9 with Coral, while Pulev is priced at 11/2. The draw is going at 25/1.
Will history repeat itself?
Joshua had the world at his feet when he jetted off to make his U.S debut last summer, putting his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles on the line against Andy Ruiz Jr.
And the Brit’s world came crashing down as he was stopped in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden.
It was Joshua’s first defeat and it took a strong performance in Saudi Arabia six months later to avenge the loss and reclaim his titles.
Pulev has eight consecutive wins under his belt and the Bulgarian will smell blood ahead of the contest, knowing that Joshua, who previously seemed invincible, is human after all.
The 39-year-old’s only career defeat came at the hands of one of Joshua’s victims, Wladimir Klitschko, and Pulev has admitted he’s matured both as a person and as a boxer since then.
Despite the odds being stacked heavily in Joshua’s favour, his opponent insists he’s the better fighter and he’s certainly not one to take lightly.
Where does Joshua go from here?
Should AJ lose on Saturday, his natural reaction will be to pursue a rematch in order to win back his belts.
If he wins, he has a wealth of options to choose from. The likes of Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce will be itching for the chance to get in the ring with their compatriot. Meanwhile, Deontay Wilder could provide an opportunity for Joshua to take another trip across the pond.
But what boxing fans really want to finally see is a showdown with Tyson Fury.
Eddie Hearn revealed earlier this year that the pair had signed a deal to face-off, although Fury’s inevitable rematch with Wilder combined with a year disrupted by COVID has thrown a spanner in the works.
There are hopes that the fight can be pencilled in for next year at some point and Fury currently heads the betting. The ‘Gypsy King’ can be backed at 8/15, while Joshua is priced at 3/2.
View the latest boxing odds.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication