As Wladimir Klitschko defends his unified heavyweight title on Saturday against Kubrat Pulev, he is seeking to extend one of the most dominant runs in boxing history.

The Decade’s Best

Wladimir Klitschko has won 20 straight fights and has not lost since 2004 when he was knocked out by Lamont Brewster. In that run, Klitschko has won and unified the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Heavyweight world boxing titles and has made 16 consecutive title defenses. His current reign as champion is the second longest reign in heavyweight boxing history at 8 years, 6 months and still counting. Only the legendary Joe Louis has had more title defenses and a longer reign.

On November 15th, at the O2 Arena in Hamburg Germany, Wladimir aims to add to his legend as he tries to defend his belts for the 17th straight time against Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev, the former European and IBF international heavyweight champion. And while Klitchsko is heavily favored as usual, Pulev could be his biggest test in his title reign.

Biggest Test Ever?

At 6-6, Klitschko has dominated his opponents with his height and length. Against Pulev though, Klitschko will only be enjoying a two inch height advantage and one inch reach advantage. Pulev also stands to weigh 10 pounds more than Klitschko’s usual 240-plus fighting weight. With his usual advantages almost evened out by Pulev, Klitschko could be in for his biggest test ever.

Yet Pulev isn’t just a threat because of his physical gifts. The 33-year old Bulgarian has a vast amateur boxing experience. Aside from his solid amateur resume, he is undefeated as a professional despite facing the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov, Tony Thompson and Joey Abell. In fact, Pulev stopped all of those worthy opponents in succession.

An intriguing Match Up

What makes this an intriguing match up is the fact that Pulev is considered as master of distance, something that Klitschko is always praised for. Both men start their attack with their jabs, but unlike Klitschko, Pulev uses his skills to wear down his opponent before putting them away. He is a strong puncher but he doesn’t possess the one punch knockout power that Wladimir Klitschko has been feared for.

Experts have always believed that the anti-Wladimir Klitschko is an aggressive opponent who uses his work rate to outpoint the champ and disrupt his rhythm. Klitschko has often used his size to pummel his opponents from a distance and then use his customary clinch to shut down the action and prevent his opponent from countering him. This is the reason why Pulev’s challenge is suspect. He looks passive because of his tactical style and that should be to Klitschko’s advantage.

Styles Make Fights

Fans who are expecting an all-out action fight should be disappointed. This fight is likely to shape up as a tactical battle with Klitschko frustrating Pulev from a distance. Unless Pulev finds a way to open up Wladimir and make him fight all night long, the odds are saying that Klitschko is going to win this one on points.

Klitschko is a heavy favorite at -550 and Pulev at +400. But it doesn’t mean the challenger doesn’t have a shot. In fact, he may have the best shot at Klitschko because he won’t be bullied around the ring with his size and respectable speed. But styles make fights and unless Pulev makes Klitschko engage with him instead of tying him up often, he will lose this one in the scorecards.

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