London: Anthony Joshua set up a potential all-British world heavyweight unification bout against Tyson Fury with a dominant ninth-round knockout of Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at London’s Wembley Arena on Saturday.
In front of 1,000 fans with attendance limited due to coronavirus restrictions, Joshua ensured there was no repeat of a shock defeat in his first clash with Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 as the 39-year-old Pulev was swatted aside.
Pulev had lost just once previously in his career to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, but was outclassed by Joshua, who could have had victory wrapped up within three rounds.
Twice Pulev was given a count by the referee in round three after he was left flailing on the ropes by an explosive burst of punches from Joshua.
The IBF, WBA and WBO world champion then surprisingly took his foot off the accelerator to allow Pulev to hang in the fight.
But in round nine three uppercuts in quick succession put Pulev back on the canvas and this time he did not get back up in time as Joshua took his career record to 24-1.
Attention will now turn to the much-anticipated clash with Fury in 2021.
An agreement in principle for Joshua and WBC champion Fury to finally go head-to-head has been in place since earlier this year.
This week, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said he was “as close to 100 per cent” as he could be that the much-anticipated bout would happen next year.