Joshua ‘ready for war’ as Pulev seeks to derail showdown

LONDON (AFP) – Anthony Joshua is “ready for war” as the British boxer prepares to face Kubrat Pulev in a world heavyweight title clash on Saturday.

Joshua will be back in the ring for the first time in 12 months – since he outpointed Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia to regain the WBA, WBO and IBF belts he lost to the same opponent at Madison Square Garden in June 2019.

A planned bout between Joshua and the 39-year-old Pulev – the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title – was postponed due to the coronavirus in June.

The Bulgarian was previously due to face the former Olympic champion in 2017 but withdrew with an injury.

A crowd of 1,000 will be at the fight at London’s Wembley Arena after nationwide Covid-19 lockdown rules were relaxed by the government. Joshua, 31, entered a bio-secure bubble on Tuesday and told Sky Sports: “My body is just a vessel that carries my brain, so I have trained my brain more than I have trained my body.

“I am ready for war. I am ready for a fight and looking forward to it.”

Joshua said it would be an “intimate” occasion, with so few fans present.

“It will be a special occasion to witness a world heavyweight champion fight amongst 1,000 people,” he said.

“Normally there would be tens of thousands of people in an arena, but there are a lucky 1,000 people in there, so hopefully they get to enjoy it.”

However, Pulev is confident he can derail plans for a future all-British undisputed heavyweight showdown between Joshua and Tyson Fury, believing he can expose his opponent’s flaws.

“We see a lot of mistakes from Anthony,” said Pulev, who boasts a 28-1 record. “A lot of bad sides to him. I think these mistakes, and the bad sides, stay.

“The most important thing is how I perform on Saturday night. When I am good, I beat him well. Right now I feel very good, strong and powerful.”

Pulev, whose only defeat came in a world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, said the bout with Joshua was a chance to give Bulgaria a world heavyweight champion.