Updated: Dec 11, 2020
TWO TIME ... AJ is back in the UK after his 2-fight hiatus against Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York, USA and Diriyah, Saudi Arabia respectively. Joshua takes on the very patient Kubrat Pulev at The SSE Arena live on Sky Sports Box Office in front of just 1,000 fans after having a 2017 bout in front of 80,000 fans at the Principality Stadium cancelled and then more recently in March 2020 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before COVID19 put the kibosh on them plans.
Qais Ashfaq (8-1-0) vs Ashley Lane (14-9-2)
We kick off the night and the return of boxing with fans with an all British Super Bantamweight contest between Qais Ashfaq and Ashley Lane.
Ashfaq comes into the bout off the back of a loss at the hand of Mark Leach in a close fought 10 round contest, previously unbeaten prior to that picking up the WBA Continental Super Bantamweight Title in the process against 16-1 Joe Ham.
Ashley Lane beat Jose Aguilar last time out back in July 2019, prior to that Lane lost a British Title challenge to unbeaten Brad Foster in 4 rounds.
Prediction: Ashfaq to come back from his first profession loss with an emphatic stoppage win, inside 6 rounds.
Florian Marku (7-0-0) vs TBC
The feared but still relatively unknown novice Florian Marku is up next. Originally proposed to take on Alex Fearon in an 8 round Welterweight contest, we at SimBoxx have news that Florian Marku has now been left without an opponent for his Matchroom Debut.
Albanian Florian Marku and manager Sam Jones want all the smoke, albeit only 7 fights into his professional boxing career after a brief spell kickboxing (1-0), Marku and Jones have already called out Conor Benn (17-0), Ashley Theophane (48-8-1) and more recently, they have been relentlessly chasing the WBO Welterweight Global Title holder Chris '2Slick' Kongo (12-0). Marku shot into the British public eye after stopping the cocky and arrogant Tommy Broadbent with a devastating body shot, a satisfying finish for all boxing fans that seen the fight.
Prediction: Whoever his opponent may be, Marku will be looking to put on a show for his Marchroom debut. Whether its a binman, a journey man or a past-his-best former contender, I wouldn't want to be him. Marku will be coming to take their head off and make a statement.
Kieron Conway (15-1-1) vs Macaulay McGowan (14-1-1)
Time for a couple of Super Welterweight stablemate prospects as highly rated Kieron Conway takes on 26 year old Macaulay McGowan.
Since losing to Derrick Osaze in a 3 round split decision back in May 2019, Conway has since won 5 of his last 6 and the only contest he didn’t win in that run was an impressive draw with Ted Cheeseman, Conway’s first 12 round bout and one he tool at short notice.
Kazakhstan’s Kulakhmet defeated McGowan in a 10 round shut out last time out, the only defeat the Manchester Man has suffered. McGowan was on a 4 fight win streak after drawing with Jez Smith.
Prediction: With only 6 ko’s in 33 fights between them, there’s more than a possibility this will go to points. Conway UD.
Hughie Fury (24-3-0) vs Mariusz Wach (36-6-0)
Heavyweight time, and what better way to start than with a Fury on an AJ card, hopefully a sign of things to come in 2021, as Tyson’s cousin Hughie takes on another former World Title challenger, this time in the shape of Poland’s Mariusz Wach.
Hughie will fight anyone, won’t he? He has been in against former WBO World Title holder Joseph Parker, AJ’s main event dance partner Kubrat Pulev and Dillian Whyte conqueror Alexander Povetkin in the last 3 years. Although Fury lost all three of these bouts, he was competitive in them all and still only 26 years old this is his chance to come again and finally get his breakthrough victory.
Mariusz Wach, a bit like Fury will get in there with anyone and although he is 41 this month and has 6 defeats on his record, only very good fighters beat him. Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, Jarrell Miller, Artur Szpilka, Martin Bakole and Dillian Whyte are the only men to beat Wach.
Prediction: This is the time for Hughie Fury to beat that household name and develop his career to the next step, normally cautious but I see him taking it to Wach early and taking him out in rounds 4-6.
Martin Bakole (15-1-0) vs Sergiy Kuzmin (15-1-0)
Martin Bakole takes on a man with an almost identical record when he faces Russian Sergiy Kuzmin. Both men have 15 wins, both have 1 loss and both have come at the hands of American Michael Hunter. The only difference is Sergiy Kuzmin lasted 40 seconds longer.
Since his 12th round stoppage loss at the hands of Michael Hunter, Martin Bakole has been capturing the boxing world’s attention with 4 back-to-back stoppages, including Mariusz Wach and the very durable ‘survivor’ Kevin Johnson.
Last time out Kuzmin suffered a unanimous decision loss against his competitors conqueror Michael Hunter. Prior to that he was 15-0 with his most notable victories being a 4thround KO of Malcolm Tann, retiring David Price in his corner at the end of the 4th round and his latest being a decision win over Joey Dawejko.
Prediction: Although Kuzmin fared better against, slightly against Michael Hunter, Bakole is just getting better and better with every fight. I think Bakole will stop Kuzmin mid to late.
Lawrence Okolie (14-0-0) vs Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1)
This should be Okolie vs Glowacki for the Vacant WBO Cruiserweight World Title but instead it’s Glowacki’s compatriot, unbeaten Nikodem Jezewski after Glowacki tested positive for COVID19.
Okolie may not have the style that everyone enjoys, and he might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’s effective and he gets the job done. With 11 ko’s in his 14 wins, ‘The Sauce’ can bang but it’s his gangly, holding, difficult to watch style that has prevented him from being a real fan favourite, because his ability and record deserves it.
Polish Nikodem Jezewski has an impressive 19-0-1 record at face value but when you delve into his record deeper, you can see its at a much, much lower standard to the level Okolie has already boxed at, with his only notable win coming against American Shawdell Terell Winters in a very close majority decision over 8 rounds.
Prediction: Okolie is very good and fought at a much higher standard, Okolie will have to make a statement to Jezewski’s compatriot this Saturday Night and I believe he will. Okolie in 3 rounds.
Anthony Joshua (23-1-0) vs Kubrat Pulev (28-1-0)
He’s back home, AJ & London just goes together, unfortunately there won’t be the 80,000 fans this time though. We do have fans back, maybe only 1,000 of them but the small hall shows can sometimes produce a hair-raising atmosphere and that’s what I expect the fans at the SSE Arena, Wembley will do for their returning hero.
Anthony Joshua, PPV star and 2-time Unified World Champion returns to the UK to defend his WBA, IBO, IBF and WBO World titles after his 2-year hiatus. After losing his World Titles in a shock, 7th round loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. at Maddison Square Garden, Anthony Joshua retained his titles in a punch perfect rematch in Saudi Arabia on his way to a decision victory.
The underrated and avoided Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev having not lost in over 6 years, with that defeat, his only defeat coming at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in a 5-round demolition. Pulev has since beat the likes of Dereck Chisora, Samuel Peter, Kevin Johnson and Hughie Fury, but at 39 years old, how much has he got left?
Prediction: I believe we’ll see the old AJ here, the spiteful, aggressive destroyer that we seen pre-Ruiz. I think Joshua will stop Pulev inside 3 to secure the mega Undisputed fight with fellow Brit Tyson Fury for 2021.
By Bobby Gunn of Simboxx