Anthony Joshua floors Kubrat Pulev three times in a spiteful and vicious performance that would have grabbed Tyson Fury’s attention, reports Skysports.
Joshua knocked his opponent out in the ninth round of their world heavyweight championship fight at The SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday night.
He floored Pulev heavily on three occasions, twice in the final round, and ended the fight with a vicious right hand to retain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
The explosive performance from Joshua would have demanded the attention of Tyson Fury – they remain on a collision course to decide an undisputed champion in 2021.
Undefeated WBC champion Fury holds the only major belt outside of Joshua’s grip and a meeting between them would be the biggest match in world boxing – after delivering this thrilling knockout in front of a crowd of 1,000 people plus boxing great Floyd Mayweather, Joshua moved a step closer to making it a reality.
His first fight since avenging a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr a year ago would have ended explosively in the third round had his challenger Pulev not possessed a warrior-like determination to continue when he was felled, but there was no escaping the eventual knockout.
Joshua barely broke eye contact with his challenger from the moment he strode over the top rope and into the ring, then their pre-fight fist bump was aggressive and intense.
When the punches began flying, Joshua landed a series of jabs and Pulev clipped him back with a left hook.
When Joshua let his hands go for the first time with a four-punch salvo in the second round, Pulev smiled sarcastically back at him.
Joshua smashed Pulev with a perfectly-timed right hand in the third round that badly hurt his challenger.
Joshua hunted him, desperate for the knockout, and landed a brutal barrage of uppercuts and hooks which eventually toppled Pulev to the canvas.
It seemed likely to be all over but Pulev, whose only previous loss in 29 fights was against Wladimir Klitschko, survived to the bell after which he threw an illegal shot that fizzed past the champion’s face.
Joshua, eyes bulging and tongue out, stared a hole through Pulev and spoke to him as the next round was set to begin.
He regained his composure and, in the fifth, cracked home a big right hand which didn’t budge Pulev, who ended the round strongly after some feisty back-and-forth trash talk.
A spiteful fight became gritty and rugged in the sixth when Pulev began winging wild swings that didn’t hit their target, but did force ugly exchanges.
Three consecutive uppercuts from Joshua hurt Pulev in the seventh but still the tough Bulgarian would not cede ground.
Pulev then landed his best punch, a straight right hand, in the eighth.
But Joshua closed the show in the ninth with another colossal uppercut which crumpled Pulev to the floor for the second time.
Still Pulev rose but a right hand from Joshua sent him flying backwards and split his lip bloodily, ending the fight in a flash.
The fight that the boxing world now craves is Joshua vs Fury – they each have other challengers circling, Oleksandr Usyk and Deontay Wilder respectively – but the two Brits putting every heavyweight belt on the line would be an historic occasion.
Europa: Mourinho’s Roma lose 6-1 to Norway’s Bodo/Glimt
Jose Mourinho oversees one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career as Roma lose 6-1 to Norwegian Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.
On a night when Tottenham suffered a shock defeat at Vitesse, former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was having an even worse time.
The Portuguese endured one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career – and certainly the most surprising – as his Roma side were thrashed 6-1 by Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.
Roma trailed just 2-1 at the break after the Norwegian champions struck through Erik Botheim and Patrick Berg’s curler, while Carles Perez replied with a clinical effort.
Mourinho made three changes at the start of the second half and another two on the hour mark after Bodo/Glimt added a third with Botheim tapping in from close range.
But there was more misery for Mourinho and Roma as Ola Solbakken’s fine solo goal made it 4-1 before Amahl Pellegrino added a fifth and Solbakken claimed his second.
It is the first time a Mourinho side has conceded six or more goals in a single game in what was the 1,008th match of his coaching career.
It sits alongside the 5-0 loss his Real Madrid side suffered against Barcelona in 2010 as one of the biggest defeats for Mourinho as a manager.
“I decided to play with this line-up, so the responsibility is mine,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather.
“I never disguised the fact we were a squad with real limitations. We have 13 players who represent one team, the others are on a different level.
“We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple.”
Patrice Evra: I’m sick of giving the Ballon D’or to Messi
Patrice Evra has admitted that he is tired of watching Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’Or, and the current Paris Saint-Germain star has done it six times in his career.
This year’s 2021 Ballon d’Or race looks more open than it used to be, with Evra even named Chelsea team N’Golo Kante and Jorginho as winners who should be better than Leo Messi.
“In my opinion, this Ballon d’Or belongs to Kante or Jorginho … I’m sick of giving it to Messi,” Evra said.
“What did you win last year? All right, Copa America and Argentina. What did you do with Barcelona?”
Competing with Leo Messi, Kante, and Jorginho in the Ballon d’Or race are the likes of Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Man U need to change something’ after losing 4-2 at Leicester – Pogba
Leicester ended their opponents’ 29-game unbeaten run away from home to increase the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba suggested that his side lack maturity and experience as they were beaten 4-2 in the Premier League at Leicester.
Pogba has declared something needs to change at Manchester United following their 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City. “We need to find something, we need to change something.”
The Frenchman played the entirety of United’s latest defeat that ended their 29-game unbeaten run away from home.
The defeat leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under further scrutiny as United’s own winless run extends to three games as they continue to look less than the sum of their expensive parts.
“To be honest, we’ve been having this kind of game for a long time and we haven’t found the problem,” Pogba said.
“We need to find what’s the problem, to concede easy goals, stupid goals, when we know those games where we play on this pitch, the fans are going to push, put pressure on us and everything. We need to be more mature, I think. We need to play with more experience, arrogance in a good way. We have to take the ball and play our football.
“But now we have to find what’s the key of these games that we lose. Because I think we deserved to lose today.
“We need to find something, we need to change something. I don’t know if the mindset of all of us, the players, when we start… we really don’t know. It’s frustrating because it’s something we don’t understand and we have to find that very fast because if you want to compete and you want to win the title, those games you have to win, even though they are very hard and we’re playing away.
“You need to fight their game, you need to find the right mentality, the right tactic to win those games. That’s my thought. We have time to think about it and then all together, we have to stick together and find the problem.”
Ole: I made bad decisions
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he “probably made a couple of bad decisions” with his team selection
Harry Maguire made a surprise return against his former club after recovering from injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the line-up after being rested against Everton. Yet it was the central midfield area where Manchester United struggled as Pogba and Nemanja Matic were badly overrun at times.
Solskjaer admitted he made errors with the way his team set up.
“The four goals we conceded were very poor,” he told Sky Sports.
“When you concede goals like that in the way we did, we don’t deserve to continue that run. Definitely the performance was very below-par and not good enough. We got a very good goal with Mason and we were knocking on the door to get another one; sloppy play and we concede a goal.
“In the second half, it was end-to-end but they created more chances and conceding at set-pieces was disappointing. Conceding seconds after the equaliser shouldn’t happen. I picked the team; Harry showed no reaction. I hold my hand up if it doesn’t work out and sometimes it doesn’t.
“When you concede four, I probably made a couple of bad decisions.”
Merse: Solskjaer in a spot of bother
Paul Merson speaking on Soccer Saturday, said, “I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in a spot of bother.
“I said before the game if that he can get through November still in the job, then they would have every chance of winning the league because they have some shocking fixtures – and this was the start of it and they have been beaten. Leicester thoroughly deserved it too.
“Manchester United are struggling. I’ve said that Arsenal could finish above them in the top four and I haven’t changed my mind.
“They are individuals, they are not a team. They haven’t got legs all around the pitch and because Ronaldo can’t go in behind defences, the other teams are all pushing up on them and that means Pogba doesn’t get time on the ball. For me, Solskjaer is under severe pressure.”
Manchester United’s gruelling run
Manchester United face a formidable set of fixtures in October and November as they look to keep pace in the Premier League and ensure Champions League qualification, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and the Manchester derby looming domestically.
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