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Klitschko to Face Pulev in 17th Consecutive Title Defense

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The Heavyweight championship of the world between lineal/IBF/WBO/IBO/WBA Super champion Wladimir "Dr. Steelhammer" Klitschko (62-3, 52 KOs) and his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat "The Cobra" Pulev (20-0, 11 KOs) of Bulgaria will take place on Saturday, Nov. 15 at the O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany.

The fight sold out very quickly before it was rescheduled due to Klitschko suffering an injury during training camp. The event will be broadcast live in the U.S. on subscription HBO Boxing After Dark at 4:45 p.m. (EST/tape-delayed PST).

History will be unfolding before our eyes as the champ puts everything on the line while making his 17th consecutive title defense during a reign that's spanned almost a decade.

Klitschko's most recent loss was back in 2004 to Lamon Brewster.

He currently holds the record for the second most consecutive title defenses in Heavyweight history, just behind the great Joe Louis (25). However, Klitschko has won his last 20 bouts in a row and this will be his 26th championship fight. Interestingly enough, his eight-year reign is also second only to Joe Louis who held the crown for 11 long years.

So why is this match-up different than just another Klitschko fight?

Because many boxing writers and analysts believe this will be the toughest test of his career in years – at least since defeating David Haye by wide, unanimous decision in 2011. And more than a few believe that the 6'4 ½" 247lbs-plus Pulev will present a tougher test than Haye and actually has a good shot at pulling off the upset.

"The Cobra" is currently ranked the number-one contender by The Ring Magazine, IBF, IBO, The international Boxing Federation, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and BoxRec.com. He has an extremely deep, impressive amateur pedigree and is a gifted, technical boxer with well-rounded, solid technique. Pulev became well known for racking-up medals at major international tournaments and won the gold medal in the Super Heavyweight division at the 2008 European Championships. He's also a former EBU (European) Heavyweight champion and a former IBF International Heavyweight champion.

In addition, Pulev is the only fighter in the division other than Klitschko who was able to totally dominate veteran contender Tony "The Tiger" Thompson. And if you've been following the sport for the past several years, you know that alone means he's a dangerous threat to the champion. But what most fans don't know, other than die-hards and boxing insiders, is that he also defeated Olandier Solis, Magomed Abdusalamov and Vyacheslav Glazkov in the amateurs.

However, Pulev does not possess explosive one-punch knockout power and has a history of grinding his opponents down with his hard jab and clubbing right hands. He's also not a highly-skilled inside fighter, although he looked most effective against his last few opponents (Perkovic, Abell, Thompson, Dimitrenko, Ustinov) when coming forward, pressing the action and striking like a cobra when he gets into range.

But at 38-years-old, Klitschko is simply not a young champion anymore. If history repeats itself, age could turn out be the wild-card factor. Very few Heavyweights in history have successfully defended the major titles at nearly 40 years of age or older. But this is a champion who's always in shape and has been known to actually gain weight during training camps. That's an extremely unusual quality for a Heavyweight.

Klitschko's trainer Jonathon Banks, who coaches out of the legendary Kronk Gym, states: "I've been with the guy since 2004, so I know exactly what I have in front of me and I know exactly what he's capable of doing...you see it's very rare to get not only a heavyweight, but a fighter period, who can move, change directions and punch all at the same time."

"Most fighters have to get set...it's like get on your mark, get set and then punch."

As confident as Banks is, there's the very real possibility that "Dr. Steelhammer" will grow old before our eyes and struggle with Pulev – who appears to have a rock-hard chin and iron will – or even get knocked out. Although the challenger is not a big puncher, it's still a fight between two large Heavyweights and Klitschko has been stopped three times in his career. But those losses were many years ago and before the late Emanuel Steward trained him to drastically improve his defensive skills to the point where it's very difficult to hit him with clean shots.

If you don't follow the Heavyweight division, this match-up appears like it's going to be highly competitive, potentially exciting and worth tuning into. Even if you're not a fight fan, it's worth watching because of the high-tech special effects, pyrotechnics, state-of-the-art light show, and overall larger than life type of spectacle that'll be displayed at the O2 arena. Can Klitschko still beat the best competition in the world at 38 and continue to chase Louis' record?


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