By: Hans Themistode
For the past several months, unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and WBC/Lineal belt holder Tyson Fury have teased a future matchup between them. Not too long ago, promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that both sides came to an agreement for two showdowns in 2021.
But while most of the world continues to ponder who would win between the pair, the former Olympic gold medalist isn’t fixated on the mega showdown.
“I have to really focus on Kubrat Pulev,” said Joshua to Sky Sports Boxing during a recent interview. “I know the names that people really want to see, but this is a mandatory challenge. I have to defend my titles against this guy. I’m going to really focus on my training to get the win because that’s what sets up the bigger fights in the future.”
Pulev of course, could care less about Joshua’s interest in facing Fury or any of the top names in the heavyweight division. With only one loss on his record which came six years ago in his first title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko, the Bulgarian native has reeled off eight straight wins which in turn has him positioned number one for Joshua’s IBF title.
A matchup with Pulev on December 12th, may not bring the sort of attention that a contest with Fury would, but regardless of that, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) isn’t taking him lightly.
“He’s a good fighter and I have to take him seriously. If I do that, then I’m confident that I’ll go in there and do a number on him.”
By the time Joshua walks through those ropes to face his mandatory challenger, it will mark roughly one year since his last contest. That of course, came on December 7th, when the British product traveled halfway across the world to Saudi Arabia to win back the heavyweight titles he lost six months prior against Andy Ruiz.
Things played out exactly the way he wanted as he outboxed his man and cruised to a unanimous decision victory. Since then however, Joshua has spent his time on the sidelines due to a combination of injuries and the current worldwide pandemic. Although he was looking forward to entering the ring at a much earlier date, the time away was exactly what he believes he needed.
“It’s not a bad thing. The body needs it. We’re going nonstop pushing myself. I’m trying to promote boxing, trying to be a better boxer and a family man. The world is going just so fast. So to have my own selfish time to breathe for a second it’s important for the mind. I’m ready now and anyone who wants smoke out there, I’m well prepared for.”