Eddie Hearn, the English sports promoter for IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, is out with a warning for Joshua’s mandatory challenger. He said Joshua, whom he calls AJ, is looking “sensational” in the final weeks of training camp as he prepares to “absolutely destroy” Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev.
Hearn was at the Sheffield training headquarters in Wednesday where he saw a glimpse of Joshua’s destructive skills with his WBA, IBF and WBO title defence against Kubrat Pulev edging closer on Saturday, December 12.
In 23 fights, 21 of which he has won by knockouts, Pulev’s sole defeat came at the hands of former Ukrainian heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Since then, he has defeated Derek Chisora and Hughie Fury and is hard at work getting ready for the December bout.
Hearn believes he stands no chance. He says Joshua intends to inflict a crushing loss on his IBF mandatory challenger.
“I went to see him [AJ] yesterday, he looked absolutely sensational. He’s moving so well. We know he’s brought in a couple of new trainers with Rob McCracken leading the way.
“He’s learning, he’s punching so hard, so sharp, so fast. I think this is going to be a tough fight against Kubrat Pulev. I also think he is going to absolutely destroy him.
“I think he’s going to break him down, he’s going to dissect him, and he’s going to punish him. I think you’re going to see a statement. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I really do. That’s what I think.
“AJ will always be a relaxed, humble guy, but I really believe having seen the improvement that he’s made, the spite in his punches, I think you’re going to get a thrilling display from Anthony Joshua.”
The ultimate prize for Joshua will remain an undisputed world title fight against WBC champion, fellow Brit Tyson Fury. The “Gypsy King” recently abandoned plans for a homecoming clash with Agit Kabayel in December.
As plans pan towards that showdown in early 2021, Hearn expressed some niggling apprehension that is both cautious and optimistic. He admits that Joshua must firstly produce an explosive performance against Pulev, without the backing of a huge crowd.
“I’m nervous, it’s behind closed doors, he [AJ] has never experienced this before in the pros. He’s used to walking out in front of 90,000, twenty yards from here [Wembley].
“This is a different kind of challenge, this is the acid test before the big one.
“All he’s got to do is beat Kubrat Pulev and I really believe he’s going to do it in brilliant style and prove to everyone he’s the best heavyweight in the world.”