By: Sean Crose
Numerous sources are now reporting that 38 year old Kubrat Pulev will be getting another shot at heavyweight glory. The 28-1 Bulgarian contender is set to face WBA, IBF and WBO world titlist Anthony Joshua on the 20th of June in Great Britain. There was talk after Tyson Fury’s brilliant victory over WBC champ Deontay Wilder last weekend that a Fury-Joshua match might go down, with all the major heavyweight titles on the line. Although the battle of British heavyweight kings may indeed transpire eventually, Joshua now appears set to face Pulev first, while Fury seems on his way to facing arch rival Wilder a third time in the ring.
Pulev’s first attempt at heavyweight supremacy occurred in November of 2014, when the then undefeated fighter faced the unquestioned ruler of the division, Wladimir Klitschko at the famed O2 Arena in Germany. It proved to be a rough night for Pulev, who Klitchcko dropped a total of three times before sending Pulev down and out in the fifth. Since that time, Pulev has gone on to face eight opponents, besting each one successively. The fight with Klitschko remains Pulev’s only loss to date in a career that has now spanned the course of ten-plus years.
As for Joshua, the 30 year old Englishman will be making his first defense after winning back his titles from Andy Ruiz last December in Saudi Arabia. Joshua looked to be the heavyweight division’s first among equals a year ago. Fury and Wilder may have also been undefeated, but Joshua was the one with the multiple belts. That all came crashing down at Madison Square Garden last June, when Andy Ruiz stunned the world by taking away Joshua’s undefeated record, as well as Joshua’s titles. No to be deterred, Joshua performed magnificently in the rematch and bested Ruiz via a one sided decision.
“I want to congratulate AJ and Eddie on regaining the title,” Pulev tweeted at the time, “and look forward to facing AJ in his next bout, as the IBF has ordered. The result is going to be different this time, I guarantee it!” Although no official announcement has been made, a match between Joshua and Pulev has been expected for some time now. This will be Joshua’s first fight in England in almost two years. He last fought at home on September 9th of 2018, when he struggled to defeat perennial Russian contender Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.
Although most fans would probably prefer to watch Joshua engage in a unifier with Fury, Pulev is Joshua’s mandatory, which means Joshua is playing by the rules of the game by giving Pulev another crack at the championship realm. It might also be noted that, although he failed miserably in the rematch, Andy Ruiz proved that anything is possible in the sport of boxing. Fans who look too far ahead regarding Joshua – or any fighter – do so at their own peril.