Anthony Joshua has warned Kubrat Pulev he is much more experienced now, claiming he “was just a pup” when they were first due to meet in 2017.
Joshua was preparing to fight Pulev in his fourth world title defence at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium three years ago when the Bulgarian pulled out late on with a shoulder injury.
Lockdown has given the WBA Super, IBF and WBO heavyweight champ a chance to reflect on his career and he can see he was such a rookie back then.
Pulev will be Joshua’s 10th successive world title fight and he feels more seasoned ahead of their showdown at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday.
“I was thinking about that the other day, I went through a lot of my career not even knowing what I was doing,” he said. “I was just fighting.
“I’ve watched back all my fights. I watched the Eric Molina fight the other day, I watched a bit of the Carlos Takam fight, I watched the Wladimir Klitschko fight and I was like ‘Wow! How was I in these type of fights with the little bit of experience I had?’.
“Looking at who I am today, I like to reflect a lot and I think ‘I was just a pup, I was a little puppy’.
“I feel stronger, I feel smarter and it’s the same thing I say with the other guys I’m trying to catch up to and I want to fight.
“The longer they leave it, the tougher it’s going to be for them because experience is the best teacher and I’m gaining so much experience every day I step in the gym.”
Joshua, 31, feels fighting Pulev three years ago might have been too early for him in his career and the durable challenger’s only defeat in 29 fights was against Klitschko in his prime in 2014.
While Joshua has developed and gained more experience, Pulev may be past his best and he is 39.
The Bob Arum-promoted fighter has also not been as busy as Joshua since their first encounter fell through and has had just three fights since April 2017, including a points win over Hughie Fury.
“Pulev, three years ago might have been too early for me,” said the 2012 Olympic gold medallist.
“I’m more experienced now, I’m wiser. I’ve lost a fight and I would never want to lose a fight again because I know what that feels like.”
Joshua is treating Pulev with respect and admits he could have ring rust after being out for a year since avenging that loss to Andy Ruiz Junior in Diriyah.
“Oh definitely,” he said. “That’s what makes this fight so interesting. I can tell you that I’m a million dollars, I feel good, I’ve been knocking everyone out in sparring.
“I might go in there on Saturday night and get my head punched in because I’ve got ring rust. So, who knows? But I feel good, I’m looking forward to it.”
Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev is live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday.
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