Kubrat Pulev and Jerry Forrest may go down in boxing history – but not for a positive reason.
Pulev, the heavyweight contender from Bulgaria, edged out Louisiana’s Jerry Forrest to earn a unanimous decision over the Sergey Kovalev-Tervel Pulev Triller Fight Club undercard at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
The judges returned scorecards of 98-92, 99-91 and 99-91, all for Pulev, 41, who landed his right hand at will against the often clumsy but tough Forrest, 34.
The 10-round heavyweight bout was one-sided and largely pedestrian. But it was overshadowed by a bizarre and frustrating debacle that happened behind the scenes.
There was a significant delay of several hours in the fight due to a kerfuffle that occurred in the locker room. Forrest’s gloves of choice did not suit him, prompting a search for another pair that required Pulev’s approval. A California State Athletic Commission representative said they asked Forrest to remove his bandages to see if the gloves would fit, but in doing so, Forrest still could not get his hands inside the gloves.
After much deliberation, much to the chagrin of the spectators, the decision was made to allow Forrest to use Pulev’s own back-up gloves from Grant, a brand popular with professional boxers.
“We lend our gloves to Jerry Forrest,” Pulev promoter Ivaylo Gotzev said on the Triller show. “He’s going to fight at Grants. We presented Jerry Forrest with the greatest gloves ever made.
When the fight finally started, both fighters entered the ring to a chorus of boos.
On lap 10, Forrest came out on the front foot. A subdued Pulev found it harder to land his right hand. Forrest appeared to stun Pulev with a sweeping left. But Pulev came back to land his own right.
Forrest showed courage on lap nine, connecting a straight left on Pulev. Midway through the lap, Pulev started bleeding from his left eye. Both fighters were otherwise sloppy and eager to hold on.
A ringside doctor examined Forrest before the eighth round, but decided that Forrest was still fit to keep fighting. Pulev went to batting practice on Forrest in the eighth round, with Forrest doing nothing more than leaning against the ropes. Forrest managed to briefly stagger Pulev with a right hook just before the end of the round.
In the seventh, Pulev continued to punish Forrest with a right hand. Forrest seemed to sleepwalk at times. With just over a minute to go, Pulev slammed into Forrest with a booming overhand right – but Forrest kind of absorbed it. Pulev then followed up with several unanswered right hands. Pulev connected another emphatic right hand to end the round.
Forrest entered round six in better condition than he had in the previous two rounds, but he was still a sitting duck for Pulev’s right hands.
In the fifth, Pulev repeatedly found a home for his right hand. A tired Forrest looked increasingly bewildered. Pulev punctuated the round with another right uppercut.
Pulev took over on the fourth lap. He landed a pair of stiff right hands in the opening minute of round four. He then knocked out Forrest with a straight right. A visibly tired Forrest ate another right hand. With a minute remaining, Pulev unloaded a barrage of punches while Forrest was on the ropes. Pulev landed a trio of right hands to end the round. Forrest fell back in his corner, his mouth agape.
In round three, Forrest countered with a well-timed straight left hand that seemed to buckle Pulev’s knees. The Bulgarian was unharmed, however, and continued to pressure Forrest. Pulev connected on a right hand that backed Forrest into the ropes. Pulev followed that up with a right uppercut, leading to a brief rally as the round ended.
The second round started the same way as the first. With a minute remaining, however, Pulev connected on a hard right hand that caught Forrest’s eye, making him hold.
In the first round, Forrest and Pulev traded blows, with Pulev pressing the action. Forrest connected on a hard left straight to the body halfway through the round.
It was Pulev’s first fight since his ninth-round stoppage loss to then-unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in 2020 at Wembley Arena in London, England.
Forrest was coming off a hard-fought draw against heavyweight contender and Olympian Michael Hunter last December in a fight that many observers thought Forrest should have won.