HAMBURG, GERMANY — When asked to describe Wladimir Klitschko’s fighting style, Kubrat Pulev bluntly stated that the reigning heavyweight champion “fights like a girl.” Four knockdowns later, a cut up and bruised Pulev would likely concede that girl has one mean left hook, as Klitschko used that weapon to leave Pulev flat on his back.
THE CHAMP GETS A SHORT BUT INTRIGUING TEST: Pulev was very game and in many ways performed better than most Klitschko opponents in recent years. At 6’4, he was able to outjab Klitschko in spots and force awkward clinches. Pulev tried to make Wladimir pay for his bear hugs by using several illegal tactics (rabbit punching, glove lacing). Klitschko remained cool and stifled Pulev’s aggression with a sneaky left hook for the bout’s first knockdown in round one. Pulev popped up and immediately tried to engage the champion. This foolish bravado saw Pulev back on the canvas in short order.
Pulev switched tactics and tried to time Klitschko from the outside. Amazingly, Pulev had some success here in stunning the champion with lead rights. The problem for Pulev was that he doesn’t possess the head movement nor the reflexes to stand in front Klitschko for any prolonged period.
Pulev brought the crowd alive with a hard right hand, but Klitschko immediately responded with a leaping left hook that downed the challenger for a third and final time.
HISTORY BECKONS: Klitschko’s KO capped his 17th successful title defense going back eight years. He is now only behind Muhammad Ali (19) Larry Holmes (20) and Joe Louis (25) in title defenses. He’ll surpass Ali and Holmes, but Louis’ record will be tough even in this heavyweight landscape. Klitschko fought twice in 2013 and 2014. At that pace, he’ll have to compete until 2019 and age 43 to pass the Brown Bomber.
SHELLSHOCKED CHALLENGER: Pulev’s first defeat was a bitter pill to swallow. He was not what you’d call gracious in defeat.
“Wladimir is a really good opponent, but he was lucky. I want a rematch. I’ll win the next time,” Pulev declared. “There’s luck in boxing. He’s a good boxer but he’s unsporting. There were a lot of tricks.”
BRIGGS DOESN’T GET HIS MOMENT: While Shannon Briggs could be seen ringside jawing with Vitali Klitschko’s wife and trying to storm the ring, security kept him in check. That was unfortunate, because Briggs’ mouth and antics would have been perfect in setting up Klitschko’s next clash. Briggs is already ranked #7 by the WBA, so it’s an open secret that he’s getting a shot at some point in 2015. We’ll see if he managed to crash the post-fight press conference.[youtube http://youtu.be/AQ-URHMt72A]