Boxing Matchmakers Column: Wladimir Klitschko vs Kubrat Pulev?
By Jeremy O’Connell (August 27th, 2013)
Coming off a long layoff, Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev catapulted himself to the top of the heap of Heavyweight contenders at the weekend with a commanding decision over twice-David Price conqueror Tony Thompson. Pulev has built up a solid resume (he also has knockout wins over the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov), and will now be rated by many as the top contender to the Klitschkos’ two-headed throne.
Indeed, the Thompson win means he has been installed as Wladimir Klitschko’s mandatory challenger by the IBF, who are known to be stringent, unlike other sanctioning bodies, in enforcing their mandatories. So, we can expect to see Pulev share a ring with Wladimir within the next year.
Wladimir will first have to negotiate a long-marinating defence against unbeaten Alexander Povetkin in October, although few expect Povetkin to put up much of a fight. There have been rumours in the German press that Wladimir may then look to squeeze in a December fight, possibly against unbeaten Denis Boytsov. Pulev will likely have one or two more fights himself before facing Wladimir, but I doubt his promoters, the Sauerlands, will risk his shot by putting him in with anybody too dangerous.
How would a Klitschko-Pulev fight play out? Pulev is technically good, relying heavily on his jab and one-two, as well as looking to have a good chin. He doesn’t have much punching power, but does everything correctly. I feel he lacks the X-factor to be a serious challenge to Wladimir, and while he would be one of the best name’s on Wladimir’s resume, he would be unlikely to provide a very competitive challenge.
TONY THOMPSON’S STANDING IN THE HEAVYWEIGHTS
Where does Tony Thompson go after this defeat? He looked good in the first three rounds, outboxing Pulev, but faded away badly in the second half of the fight, settling for lasting the distance. It was his first loss to anyone except Wladimir Klitschko in over a decade, but he looked his age and came into the fight at his heaviest-ever weight.
In my view, he still deserves to be recognized as the top ranked American Heavyweight (the only one in the top ten), and his options are still strong due to his two wins over David Price. He would make a perfect opponent for the loser (or even the winner) of the upcoming David Haye-Tyson Fury clash, and Sauerland might have him back to Germany to fight another one of their Heavyweights, perhaps Robert Helenius. Tony Thompson-Dereck Chisora would also sell well in the UK. There is still significant money to be made by Tony Thompson, even if his world title ambitions seem to finally be up in smoke.
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