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Joshua knocks out Pulev, edges closer to dream fight against Tyson Fury

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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.

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Man Utd defender Malacia admits he ‘didn’t agree’ with Van Gaal over centre-back trial

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Tyrell Malacia

Man Utd defender Tyrell Malacia says he “didn’t agree” with Louis van Gaal trialling him as a centre-back in a recent international match.

The Netherlands made it to the Nations League finals on Sunday when they beat Belgium 1-0 with Malacia coming off the bench at the half-time interval.

Malacia is used to playing at left-back for Man Utd and his country but Van Gaal decided the 23-year-old would play on the left-hand side of a back three against Belgium.

It had been presumed that Daley Blind – who had been playing at left-back – would shift inside to left centre-back when Malacia replaced Nathan Ake at the break.

However, that wasn’t the case with Malacia performed well in a new position, keeping Belgium playmaker Kevin de Bruyne quiet in the second half.

Van Gaal and Malacia exchanged some heated words on the touchline during the match but the Man Utd defender admits he went forward “too much” for his role.

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“I went two or three times too much forward,” Malacia told De Telegraaf.

“That is not possible in this position as quickly. But I was corrected by others.

“I didn’t agree with it at the time, yes. That’s right. After the game we talked about that moment for a while and then it was over.

“I’m comfortable with United at the moment. The national coach thinks that I should also be able to play in the centre of the defence. But I feel best on the left.”

Van Gaal revealed after the match that the idea of playing Malacia at left centre-back was to prepare the Netherlands for the absence of Bruno Martins Indi at the upcoming World Cup.

“I put Malacia in the left centre-back role because Martins Indi is not going to make it to the World Cup squad in time due to injury,” Van Gaal told ESPN NL.

“I have to look at other players who can play there and I wanted to see what Malacia could do, so Ake was substituted.

“The defensive work he did very well, but the constructive work in the build-up could have been a lot better.”

But former Ajax and PSV Eindhoven player Kenneth Perez reckons Malacia – who joined Man Utd in the summer from Feyenoord – should be Van Gaal’s first-choice left-back heading into the World Cup in Qatar.

Perez said earlier this month:”If he continues this and becomes a regular base player for Manchester United, then he is very close to becoming the first left back of the Dutch national team.

“Especially in a three-man defence, where you need someone who is very active and willing in that position [wing-back].”

Football365
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Iwobi’ll be Eagles game changer in Oran ­­‑ Egwuekwe

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Alex Iwobi

FORMER Super Eagles defender Azubuike Egwuekwe has backed the national team to overcome their hosts Desert Foxes of Algeria when they faceoff at the Miloud Hadefi Olympic Complex in Oran on Tuesday (today), saying in-form Everton forward Alex would be the “game changer.”

The Eagles were held  2-2 last Friday by an Algerian side largely made up of domestic league players in a test game played behind closed doors in Constantine, with Iwobi scoring an amazing goal from outside the box.

AFCON 2013 winner Egwuekwe believes the Eagles can get a result against the Foxes despite the quality in the Algerian team.

“Of course, the Eagles can win; they are playing well under the new coach (Peseiro). But you know, Algeria is a very strong side, however, as a Nigerian, I have to support my country. I believe we are going to come out victorious,” Egwuekwe told PUNCH Sports Extra.

The former giant centre-back believes that the exploits of Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi will be pivotal in the game.

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“We have a lot of talents in Nigeria, but, for me, at this moment, Alex Iwobi will be the game changer, because he has been in top form since the beginning of this season in the Premier League. I believe that if he starts, he is going to make a difference for the team.”

Also, 2008 Olympics silver medallist Femi Ajilore said the friendly was an opportunity for new players to show the stuff they were made of.

“I am not expecting much from them, but I am expecting a little from the new players in the team. I am not expecting much because we have a lot of issues, when you look at the injured strikers (Victor Osimhen and Umar Sadiq) but of course, it’s an opportunity for some other young ones that are just entering the team to step in.

“Of course, the Algerians have been doing so well in recent times; they’re on a winning streak, so all I want to see is the introduction of the few new players in the team so we can access how good they are.”

The former Warri Wolves captain also spoke on emerging star Raphael Onyedika; the new boy in the Eagles camp.

“I am expecting a bit from him, this is his first time at the national level, and I am happy to see him because he has managed to shine at the same place where I shined; in Midtjylland, and now, he is in Club Brugge, playing in the Champions League, which has added more to his profile. I am expecting to see his integration in the team and also a good performance so that he can be a regular in the team,” Ajilore told The PUNCH.

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Tyson Fury must ‘shut up’ on social media to resume Joshua fight talk – D Whyte

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  • Targets fight with Joshua

British boxer Dillian Whyte says Tyson Fury should “shut his big mouth up” on social media and allow talks to resume for a British battle with Anthony Joshua.

Fury has declared on social media that his fight against Joshua is off after a contract was not finalised by a 5pm deadline Monday, which had been set by the WBC champion.

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury

Whyte also hinted in an interview with Sky Sports that he might set up a new fight with Joshua should Fury decide not to change his mind.

He believes Fury has derailed plans with his public outbursts and advised his former opponent to remain silent while negotiations continue between both fighters.

“He (Fury) definitely needs to chill out,” Whyte told Sky Sports. “Some of the ways he does negotiating business, it’s all social media and shouting, screaming and calling people big dossers. I’m not an Anthony Joshua fan as well; I don’t really like both of them.

“Big fights sometimes it pays off to be a bit patient, and just shut his big mouth up a bit and stop talking s**t about the big GK (Gypsy King).

“Let the fight happen, you want the fight to happen or you don’t want the fight to happen. If you want the fight to happen be patient, there’s a lot of money, a lot of things at stake so it will take time.

“It’s a lot of things that can go wrong. He just needs to relax.”

Whyte has experienced organising fights with both men in the past and took a media silence at one point during the build-up to his fight with Fury earlier this year having initially been unhappy with negotiations.

He admits his fight with Joshua in 2015 had been more straightforward to make given the position they were both in at that stage of their careers.

Whyte said, “I think it could happen but Tyson Fury is putting a lot of pressure on, not intelligently, he’s just trying to use social media and it’s been a bit silly really.

“These big fights take time because there’s a lot that goes into it, there are a lot of commercial things and protecting your rights. It’s not just as simple as ‘ah sign the contract you big dosser’.

“Big fights take time and they have to get everything right otherwise it will fall over at the wayside if not done properly.

“Joshua fight was simple, we’d fought already before and it was a big fight and I’ve got a good team around me so we were quick with the paperwork.

“There was no ‘the deadline is this’, we took time to protect our own interests because the fight started as a normal fight that became a pay-per-view fight a week before the fight was due to happen.”

If the Fury fight falls through, Whyte insists he is ready to step in and face Joshua this winter as the pair seek a return to world title contention.

“If the Fury fight doesn’t get made with him and Joshua, me and Joshua can fight in December if he wants,” said Whyte.

“He’s training for it, he’s ready for it, he’s willing to take Fury on so if that fight doesn’t get made I’ll step up and take the fight with Joshua.”

Whyte is relocating to California for his next training camp ahead of a return to the ring later this year and is working with a new-look coaching set-up that includes American trainer Buddy McGirt.

McGirt has previously worked with world champions such as Sergey Kovalev, Antonio Tarver and Hasim Rahman.

“Buddy has been a two-time world champion, he fought a lot of good guys and has been in the corner of a lot of top guys as well,” said Whyte.

“He’s been around, had years and rounds of world title experience and I think that’s why I need at this stage in my career, somebody who can make little tweaks and has a bit more experience in big fights.”

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