Joshua ready for return; Hughie Fury aims to step out of Tyson’s shadow

Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua makes his eagerly-awaited return to the ring during October when he faces Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua’s bout is one of a number of exciting contests featuring UK boxers over the next couple of months, adding to what has already been an exciting year for the sport.

We take a look at some of the top fights taking place during September and October.  

Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev – Saturday, October 28 – Cardiff

Joshua will defend his IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight titles against Pulev, having extended his winning run to 19 knockout successes with a bruising victory over Wladimir Klitschko back in April.

Klitschko’s subsequent retirement paved the way for Pulev’s title shot, and the 36-year-old should not be underestimated. Pulev has victories over Alexander Ustinov and Tony Thompson on his CV and challenged for the title back in 2014, although he was knocked out by Klitschko in five rounds.

The Bulgarian has bounced back with five successive victories, including a split decision verdict over Derek Chisora in May 2016. Pulev boasts a 25-1 record, but just 13 of those have come by knockout. Bet365 Betting make Joshua a long odds-on favourite to win and he should have too much class for his opponent.

Joseph Parker v Hughie Fury – Saturday, September 23 – Manchester

Parker will defend his WBO world heavyweight title against Tyson Fury’s cousin knowing that victory could set up a unification clash with Joshua.

The 25-year-old defeated Andy Ruiz last December to take his winning run to 23 fights and become New Zealand’s first-ever heavyweight world champion. Parker has won by either KO or TKO on 18 occasions, but his unbeaten opponent will be eager to prove there is more than one world-class Fury in boxing.

The 22-year-old is unbeaten in 20 fights, with 10 of those coming by knockout, but a series of health problems have hindered his progress over the past couple of years. Parker is rated as the slight favourite to retain his title, but Fury has the talent to cause him major problems.

George Groves v Jamie Cox – Saturday, October 14 – London

Groves finally got the world title he craved at the fourth attempt with a stunning victory over Fedor Chudinov back in May. The 29-year-old will put the WBA Super World Super Middleweight on the line against Cox, with the fight also offering the chance to secure a place in the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.

Groves appeared to have his limitations exposed when he lost twice to Carl Froch during 2013 and 2014, and a subsequent defeat against Badou Jack was a further setback. However, he has bounced back in impressive style to win his last five contests.

Cox is unbeaten in 24 fights, including 13 knockouts, but this bout represents a serious step up in class for the 30-year-old and Groves is fancied to retain his title.

Billy Joe Saunders v Willie Monroe Jr – Saturday, September 16 – London

Saunders is desperate to face the winner of the Gennady Golovkin versus Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez fight being held in Las Vegas on the same night, but he would do well to not look past Monroe’s challenge.

The unbeaten 28-year-old took the WBO middleweight title from Andy Lee in December 2015, but didn’t fight again for another twelve months. He looked out of shape as he struggled to a decision victory over Artur Akavov and another prolonged absence is a worrying sign.

Monroe has lost just twice in 23 fights, including an unsuccessful challenge for Golovkin’s WBA middleweight title in 2015, but his style could cause Saunders problems. The 30-year-old has bounced back from that defeat with victories over John Thompson and Gabriel Rosado and if Saunders turns up in less than perfect shape the American is capable of springing a surprise.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie