By: Sean Crose
“On June 20, I am defending my Heavyweight World Titles,” says WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. “I’m back in my home city after some time away. A spectacular stadium has been built in North London and I’m honored to bring the boxing community from all over the world to witness us make history with the stadium’s first Heavyweight World Title fight. The belts go back up in the air and nothing will stop me from being victorious.”Having regained the Title belts that he lost in stunning fashion to Andy Ruiz last spring (Joshua came back and bested Ruiz in impressive style last December in Saudi Arabia), Joshua is now set to defend those belts this June at Tottenham Hostspur Stadium.
Joshua’s opponent will be longtime contender Kubrat Pulev. The 38 year old Bulgarian battled Wladimir Klitschko for Klitchsko’s IBF belt back in November of 2014. Klitschko ended up winning by fifth round knockout, but Pulev kept plugging. He’s won his last eight fights and will enter the ring to face Joshua with a record of 28-1. “I am happy to have the opportunity to show the world how strong I really am,” Pulev says. “Becoming a Heavyweight World Champion has always been my mission in life and on June 20, 2020 I will fulfill my destiny!”
Joshua, of course, has had quite a year from himself. Last minute replacement Ruiz not only stunned the world by besting Joshua in the Londoner’s American debut at Madison Square Garden last June, he beat the statuesque Englishman up. The 30 year old Joshua came back stylistically and professionally by boxing circles around a heavy Ruiz in December, reestablishing himself as a titlist. The division has changed since that time, however. Fellow Englishman Tyson Fury’s dominating win over Deontay Wilder last month has led many, if not most, analysts to view Fury as King of the heavyweight hill. Joshua may have more titles, but Fury is now essentially the big man to beat.
Before the 23-1 Joshua can attempt to assert himself over Fury (or Wilder, who is set to face Fury for the third time next summer) there is the matter of Pulev to deal with with. Promoter Eddie Hearn actually sees the impending Pulev battle as a big deal in and of itself. “I’m so excited to see Anthony Joshua return to the capital, 70,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is going to be very special,” Hearn says. “2019 was a crazy year that had everything – the only thing missing was a UK fight and as we go into what I believe will be the biggest year of ‘AJ’s’ career so far, all our attention turns to Kubrat Pulev in an absolute must win fight.”
Hearn points out that Pulev isn’t simply a face in the crowd. “Pulev is undefeated in six years,” says Hearn, “and his team and especially Bob Arum really fancy this. I think you are going to see something special from ‘AJ’ on June 20 – a destructive performance on the road to undisputed.”