The underdog gets points for trying, for earning his check, but in the end, the same fate befell Kubrat Pulev as all the others since 2004. Wladimir Klitschko's left hook was a persistent and nasty presence on the chin of the Bulgarian, who was down twice in the first, once in the third and for the final time in the fifth, in the main event from the O2 World Arena in Hamburg on Saturday, and on HBO.
The Ukrainian born German and US resident, who is awaiting the birth of his first baby, in the belly of starlet mama to be Hayden Panettiere, Klitschko (39 in March; 245.8 Friday) was 62-3, with 52 stops entering; the Bulgarian Pulev (from Bulgaria; 2008 Olympian; 246.9 Friday; enjoys ½ inch reach advantage) was 20-0 with 11 KOs.
This was Wlad’s 17th title defense for the semi-undisputed heavyweight champ, trailing Joe Louis at 25, and Larry Holmes at 20, though the foes available to Wlad haven’t been half a Murderers Row.
This was a fun version of Wlad, one that would have made late trainer Emanuel Steward VERY happy; Steward loved when Wlad got nasty, craved KOs, and that was the guy on this night. Is he worried about being a dad? Who knows why on this night he got vicious, maybe because he sensed Pulev didn't have the pop to bother him. Regardless, we will all be happy to see Wlad seeking early stoppages in this fashion, moving forward.
In the first, the 6-4 underdog and Wlad clinched. Tony Weeks the ref got busy early. Pulev came out rough, but not ready; he was knocked down twice by left hooks. The first hook was a lead left, and he got up on iffy legs, but clear eyes. The second one was sort of a push, and balance issue.
In the second, the 6-6 dominator, who came with all but the WBC belt, was patient, landed a sharp right. He bounced, much more than normal, and wanted to land a lead left hook. Pulev was too stiff and tall, no head movement. Trainer Jonathan Banks told Wlad to circle and move, don’t let Pulev get into a dirty mode.
In the third, Pulev was busier, jabbing more. They of course clinched each other…His jab was not Holmesian…A right hand hurt Pulev, and the lead left hook sent him down for the third time. Wlad was nasty, looking to finish. Pulev’s rabbit punches were his best work.
In the fourth, a right landed on Wlad. Wlad posed a bunch and Pulev was having better luck. Not enough to win the round, though.
In the fifth, a right by Wlad resonated. The crowd perked up. A right wobbled Wlad, though, and then he landed a left, a sharp retort, and that was it. Countout win for the Ukrainian master….The end came at 2:11, for the record.