Buhari congratulates Anthony Joshua’s victory over Pulev

Anthony Joshua presents heavyweight title belts to BuhariAnthony Joshua presents heavyweight title belts to Buhari
FILE: Anthony Joshua presents heavyweight title belts to President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari celebrates the decisive victory of Nigerian-born boxer, Anthony Joshua over Kubrat Pulev Saturday night.

The President says by retaining his IBF, WBA, and WBO titles, Joshua has given boxing lovers round the world, and particularly in Nigeria, something to cheer.

He recalls his meeting with the heavyweight champion in London earlier in the year, describing Anthony Joshua as a humble, well brought up young man, “who will still go places.”

“President Buhari wishes Joshua all the best in his dream fight against Tyson Fury, saying he has the prayers and goodwill of Nigerians going with him,” a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina said.

Joshua crushes Pulev

Deal of the day

Joshua, in a gleaming white sleeveless hoodie for his ring walk, was smart from start to finish on a night when the widespread anticipation of a fight with Tyson Fury – in which all four world heavyweight titles could be contested for the first time – dominated the narrative.

In his last two outings, the world champion stood up to immense pressure. A second defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr in December would have left his career in tatters. He was punch perfect on the night.

Joshua knocked Pulev twice to the ground in round three and twice more in the ninth and final round
Joshua knocked Pulev twice to the ground in round three and twice more in the ninth and final round

A loss here would have made him the instant fall guy amid public demand for the Fury bout. Once again he was emphatic.

He found his range early on with flicked jabs as 39-year-old Pulev boxed cautiously and struggled to throw anything fast or crisp.

When he did throw a jab in the third, a counter right landed on his jaw and stunned him, allowing Joshua to follow up with an uppercut and send him down.

Pulev had briefly tried to smile and roar in the face of adversity but within seconds his back was turned and an uppercut turned his legs to jelly as he crashed down again.

The pair punched one another after the bell, exchanged glares before the fifth and while Pulev gained at least a footing in the following rounds, he was never able to land anything that would allow him to dictate.

Some will ask why Joshua was unable to end things more quickly but after a year out of the ring, he controlled this fight.

Joshua could not miss with the right uppercut all night and a flurry of four in the ninth dropped the game Pulev, before a jolting straight right to the chin left him unable to answer the count as the champion swaggered away, aware his night’s work was over.

It is testament to Joshua that he continues to rise to such mental challenges.

Fury will move better than Pulev, punch with far greater variety, believe in himself more and set far more traps in the ring.

He will also inevitably bring a whole new level of mental warfare to any build-up should the fight happen.

Hope has never been higher that it will.