By: Hans Themistode
Current unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is having a hard time keeping his eyes on the prize. With WBC belt holder Tyson Fury constantly calling him out, it’s been difficult to focus on anyone else. However, the last time Joshua looked ahead, he found himself on the mat on four separate occasions before ultimately getting stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in mid 2019.
Joshua, of course, has since bounced back. Now, he is now in line to face off against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. The former title challenger has been rolling since losing to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, winning eight straight matchups.
Pulev has done all of the dirty work. He faced the virtual unknowns such as George Arias and Maurice Harris to knocking off title contenders such as Dereck Chisora and Hughie Fury. He’s now exactly in the position that he wants to be. And don’t expect him to simply relinquish his spot so easily. Even if it means most of the boxing world hating him for coming in between one of the biggest fights in recent history.
“Pulev’s entitled to do exactly what he wants,” said Joshua to IFL TV during a recent interview. “He’s in position to fight me. So, if he wants the opportunity to fight, he sticks to his guns. But if he wants to see, you know, the two world champions in Great Britain clash, then step aside. But that’s the only options.”
Joshua may claim that Pulev has two options, but at 39, he may have only one. Stepping aside during a global pandemic in order to allow Tyson Fury and Joshua to meet up in the ring, may not be in his best interest. But putting all pessimism to the side, Pulev could opt to sit on the sidelines and collect not only ring rust, but also piles of cash. But that’s only one side of the equation. Fury still has business of his own to handle in a third fight with Deontay Wilder.
“If he wants to fight me and he’s confident, come get this work. Or if you would rather sit back and watch what happens with me and Tyson Fury, that option’s there as well. But if I’m honest with you, my negotiations with Pulev were a bit different. I think [Fury] has a lot of things he needs to sort out with Deontay Wilder.”