SAN DIEGO, November 15, 2014 – In heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s last couple of bouts, the most exciting part of the fight was the theatrical European introductions and ring walks. Saturday’s opening preceding Klitschko’s title defense against undefeated Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev (20-1, 11 KOs), 33, a 2008 Olympian didn’t disappoint.
For once, the fight lived up to the ringwalk. Although Klitschko (63-3, 54 KOs) won decisively, scoring four knockdowns enroute to a fifth round knockout victory, Pulev proved he has plenty of skills, power, a tough chin and the determination to go with it.
Klitschko’s devoted fans at the O2 Arena in Hamburg, Germany packed the house and roared their approval. Klitschko is a superstar in Europe. But they also showed respect to Pulev for his efforts.
The most surprising thing about the fight was that all four knockdowns including the final knockout came from left hooks. Perhaps Klitschko watched Gennady Golovkin’s left hook knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio on October 18 and liked what he saw. He employed the punch to brilliant effect. Rubio was down within the first 90 seconds of the start, and again before the first round was over. It seemed all but inevitable at that point.
But Pulev sucked it up and stayed aggressive, forcing Klitschko to engage with him. For his part, Klitschko avoided the ugly clenchathon approach he’s employed in the past.
Klitschko decked Pulev again in the third round, setting up with a sound right hand followed up with the left hook as Pulev was wobbling on his feet. Still, Pulev stayed in the game. This time he suffered a cut under the left eye, and he was clearly on his way out.
The one moment of glory for Pulev was shortlived. In the fifth round, he wobbled Klitschko and shocked the fans with a solid right hand. Klitschko was none too happy and the fighter nicknamed “Dr. Steelhammer” operated on Pulev with a crushing left hook on the chin, not really a counterpunch but it seemed so. Pulev crashed to the canvas as only the big heavyweights do, lifting his head about halfway through the count by referee Tony Weeks before calling it a day at 2:11 of round five.
Klitschko landed 38 of 89 punches for a 43 percent connect rate according to CompuBox states; Pulev connected on 25 of 110 punches, a 23 percent connect rate.
It was Klitschko’s 17th title defense. He sits behind three behind Larry Holmes in second place for most consecutive heavyweight title defenses. Joe Louis holds the record for all weight classes at 25 in a row.
Pulev, game to the end, said in the post fight news conference he wants a rematch, that Klitschko “got lucky,” calling the champion “unsporting” for using a lot of tricks.
Klitschko will return to his Hollywood, Florida home where his fiancee, actress Hayden Panettiere, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in about two weeks, a daughter. She didn’t travel to Hamburg for the fight as she usually does.
Panettiere may not have to go far for Klitschko’s next fight. Just before the bout, Klitschko signed a three-fight deal with HBO. It’s possible he will schedule a bout in the United States in the near future. One possible challenger is American heavyweight Bryant Jennings; the winner of the bout between Haitian born Canadian Bermane Stiverne and American Deontay Wilder is another. British heavyweights Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora will fight a rematch November 29 in London to become a mandatory challenger in the division. Fury won the first bout in a strong decision three years ago. Fury-Chisora II will stream live on ESPN3.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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