Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
After a slow start against experienced heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko, undefeated professional Kubrat Pulev finished strong and scored his most significant victory to date by knocking out a previously unstopped fighter who had, prior to the opening bell, only one loss on his resume (Eddie Chambers, on points). For his win on Saturday, May 5 at Germany’s emergent boxing Mecca; the Messehalle in Erfurt, Pulev gained the EBU championship.
Official verdict: Pulev by way of KO.
Dimitrenko executed a sharp jab in the opening round and, boasting the superior technique, the Ukraine-born German’s work was in danger of getting overshadowed by Pulev’s wide overhand right in round two. Such success from Pulev proved to be sporadic, as Dimitrenko – a 29-year-old with victories over Albert Sosnowski, Ross Purrity, Timo Hoffmann and Michael Sprott on his record – began throwing his own right hand and it was a far more educated, straighter and thoughtful shot than the ones Pulev dispatched.
Pulev, 6’4 1/2, came back into the fight in the third round and marked-up Dimitrenko’s eye with some blue swelling due to a more convincing jab. That lead shot oft came at an unexpected moment as Pulev would wind-up to throw the right, which opened Alexander up and, instead, Kubrat poked an orthodox jab into Pulev’s face. Finding his range with power in the fourth, Pulev’s overhand rights – thrown in a less looping fashion than in the early rounds – connected and forced Dimitrenko into an act of kidology as he attempted to laugh off the thudding shot.
Dimitrenko had the benefit of the physical advantage as he towered over Pulev by three inches and also had a greater wingspan (reach = 83 inches). His fighting style in the fifth round, though, did not reflect this as Pulev maintained the boxing initiative. Dimitrenko rallied late in the stanza and a controlled cluster of punches ensured a share of the spoils prior to the sixth.
Fighting in black trunks, Dimitrenko – nicknamed Sascha – pressured Pulev further in the sixth round but left himself open to incoming shots and a mouse on either side of his nose became obvious to note. Pulev’s intuition was far greater than Dimitrenko’s. When Dimitrenko was about to throw a left, Pulev knew that he could jab with his opponent’s jab and beat him to the punch – something that happened repeatedly in the seventh. Dimitrenko may have been credited with the greater shot output, but it was Pulev’s precision that deserved higher points for A: the effectiveness of his aggression and B: opening up angry cuts (a peach of an uppercut at the end of round seven could have been the blow that left a lot of blood leaking from the side of Sascha’s eye).
The will, determination and desire to throw a shot had been beaten out of Dimitrenko. In round eight he threw in a lackadaisical manner while Pulev’s upper body movement ensured he could evade the shots. In return, Pulev – to put it simply – outboxed his man. Using the full space of the ring, Pulev’s conditioning was so ‘on’ that he was still able to maneuver around the periphery in round nine with the same ease in which he did in round one. His shot selection, too, was just as wise and, even though he relinquished the ten scores to Dimi in the early stages, by the decisive stanzas it was turning into a beat down.
Such was the difference in class, accuracy and power, that before round ten, British trainer Scott Welch’s attempts to gee up Dimitrenko fell on deaf ears as the pugilist gave a hint that he may have wanted an out. The more Dimitrenko’s jaw began to hang due to fatigue, the easier time Pulev had in landing as Kubrat attached chin-checking overhand right shots to his orthodox jab.
With his mouth agape and legs buckled, Dimitrenko was eventually – and inevitably – felled in round 11, by a jab no less. The knockdown was most likely scored due to exhaustion on Dimitrenko’s part rather than power on Pulev’s, but the big man was on his knees for a big count – all the way to nine – before the referee waved the fight off.
With victory, Pulev enhanced his standing as one of Europe’s leading heavyweights, bolstered his claim to be amongst the elite at world level, added the European title to his IBF International belt and saw his record jump up to 16-0-0, 8ko. Dimitrenko stepped back to 32-2-0, 21ko.