Pulev stops late-sub after scare to stay on course for Wladimir
By Michael J Jones
Top-rated heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev came through a stay-busy fight on the weekend at Jansportforum, Neubrandenburg, Germany, but only after a scare at the hands of Minnesota trial-horse Joey Abell.
Abell, the same height and age as Pulev at 6’4” and 32 respectively, came in at just one week’s notice to face the unbeaten Bulgarian but gave it a go and had some success in the first against the slow-starting favourite.
As both fighters exchanged hard shots in a lively opener, Abell visibly tired in the last minute as “The Cobra” came to life finally. Pulev won a less-interesting second round and seemed set to wear the late-replacement down without much trouble.
Then the third round began…
When Pulev’s head-punches failed to make a significant impact on the jaw of his southpaw opponent, he switched his attention downstairs to wind Abell to the gut. A straight right to the stomach sunk in to drop the rapidly fading American who gamely got up to face more punishment.
Pulev calmly looked for the fight finisher but was soon on the deck himself by a glancing right hook to the head from Joey. Kubrat angrily gestured to the ref insisting it wasn’t a knock-down but merely a slip but, regardless, the ref gave him a count.
With a knock-down each it was intriguing what would unfold in the next. However, Abell looked spent as Pulev quietly chipped away with his solid (if unspectacular) combinations. The exhausted Abell would be dropped twice more as Pulev finally got down to work.
Abell sat the fight out after the one-sided fourth with the fight officially going down as fifth-round TKO for the now 19-0 (10) winner.
Abell dips to 29-7 (28) and gave a good account of himself after stepping in to replace Sherman Williams. At the previous day’s weigh in Pulev scaled 253lbs to his opponent’s 248. Neither are the body-beautiful types to be fair though Pulev looked understandably fitter than the fleshy Abell.
With the win, Pulev stays on course for a shot at world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. He fully deserves his shot after winning the IBF International and European heavyweight titles and winning an IBF final eliminator in August against Tony Thompson.
Many will say Pulev doesn’t stand a chance against Klitschko but clearly the undefeated Bulgarian is a better-than-he looks type. He can punch a bit, has a good chin and is very good at lowering the pace to suite his own fitness (though as is Wlad). The mighty Wladimir may well overlook him which could give Pulev a real shot of pulling off the upset but time will tell.
Pulev turned pro at 28 after a glittering amateur career and inside his first ten bouts had seen off vastly more experienced opposition such as Matt Skelton and Paolo Vidoz. Last year Kubrat knocked out Alexander Dimitrenko to win the European title and defended that belt with a crushing stoppage of previously unbeaten Alex Ustinov.
In August the 6’4” contender would return from an eleven-month absence to clearly out-score respected American Thompson over twelve to cement his status as one of the best big men in the world. Although Pulev isn’t easy on the eye to many he sits behind only the Klitschko brothers at the top of the heavyweight tree.
The Abell match was featured on the undercard of Juergen Braehmer’s WBA light-heavyweight title fight against unbeaten puncher Marcus Oliveira, won by the German on points to become a two-time world ruler at 35.