The Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg, Germany will host the European and IBF International Heavyweight Title showdown on Sept. 29 between champion Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria and challenger Alexander Ustinov of Russia. The winner will reportedly earn himself the number one ranking in the IBF and could get a shot at champion Wladimir Klitschko. Both Pulev and Ustinov are undefeated and two of the best heavyweight prospects in the world.
Ustinov definitely isn’t your average heavyweight as he stands 6-foot-7 and weighed in at 310 lbs. for his last fight. Needless to say he’s going to have quite a weight and height advantage over the 6-foot-4 champion. Pulev will have to negate this by getting in and out with his superior speed and rack up the points. If he can’t then it’s likely to be a dull contest.
With his physical advantages, Ustinov needs to work his jab all night long and just keep Pulev at bay. However, since he’s trying to take the title from the champion he’s going to have to show some initiative and solid punching too. If the 31-year-old Pulev can take the big man’s power then he’ll have a good shot at retaining his crown. The champion also possesses more pure boxing skills than the challenger and this means he doesn’t have to knock him out to win the fight.
Pulev will enter the ring with a record of 16-0 with eight KOs, while the 35-year-old Ustinov is 27-0 with 21 stoppages. Ustinov turned professional back in 2005 and has fought mainly European opposition. Some of his better opponents have been Michael Sprott and Monte Barrett. His last bout was a seventh-round KO over Jason Gavern back in April. Pulev turned pro just three years ago and as his record shows, he’s been pretty active since 2009.
He’s also fought mainly in Europe with some of his better opposition being Matt Skelton, Danny Batchelder, Dominick Guinn, Derric Rossy, Travis Walker, Michael Sprott, and Alexander Dimitrienko. He beat Dimitrienko by an 11th-round KO in May in his last outing, winning the European title. He won the vacant WBF International Belt with a unanimous decision over Walker two fights earlier against Walker.
Pulev might actually have fought the tougher boxers even though he’s only got 16 bouts under his belt, but Ustinov has sparred with Vitali Klitschko quite a bit in the past and that experience should help him.
This has the potential to be a good action fight if Ustinov presses the action. If he doesn’t though, it could quickly turn into a bit of a snooze fest. There’s something at stake here since the winner could earn a career-best payday with a bout against Klitschko.
When it comes down to it though, Pulev has more athleticism and he’s by no means a small heavyweight at 6-foot-4. Look for him to pull out a decision win and keep his European belt while earning the IBF’s top ranking.
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Written by: Ian Palmer