Fresno, California, USA: In the co-main event on ESPN+, heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev produced a day-at-the-office win over Detroit’s Rydell Booker.
With the win, Pulev (28-1, 14 KO) maintains his IBF #1 ranking and mandatory status to challenge the winner of Ruiz-Joshua, happening this December 7th in Saudi Arabia. Pulev is the biggest name under the Top Rank umbrella aside from Tyson Fury, which is another big fight that was on the line tonight for the Bulgarian.
Pulev, 38, used his solid jab against a mostly negative Booker, who did land the occasional blow, but often found himself on the ropes trying to avoid punishment.
By round three, Booker’s poor conditioning was beginning to show and his right eye was beginning to swell from Pulev’s consistent jab.
Round four and five were more of the same and one had to wonder why Pulev wasn’t pressing the issue to bring matters to a close. He seemed content to bank the rounds by using his jab to punish the American.
In round seven Pulev started to land the right hand heavily and as the round closed it looked like the fight might be stopped. However rounds eight and nine produced more of the same as Booker showed real grit and courage, but lacked the conditioning to mount any serious offence.
By the end of the bout, the obvious result was a unanimous decision for Pulev and he can now look forward to facing either Andy Ruiz or Anthony Joshua next year.
Pulev has now won eight straight since his 2014 loss to Wladimir Klitschko, all the while building his way towards mandatory status. For those who question his level of opposition, they’d be well served to recall that both Jarrell Miller and Dillian Whyte both passed at the chance to face the Bulgarian superstar for the IBF mandatory in Bulgaria.
For Booker, 38, it’s his second loss, following a long period of incarceration and one has to wonder what the future holds as this might be his last serious payday.