by John Walker
Bulgarian heavyweight contender Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev (20-1, 11 KOs) went up against one of the greatest heavyweights of all time in Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014, and like every one of the champion’s opponents in the last decade, fell short, getting stopped by KO in round 5 of his quest for the IBF world title.
The 33-year-old Pulev thus experienced his first defeat; however, losing to a champion of Klitschko’s caliber is hardly something to be ashamed of.
In his favor, while most of Wladimir’s opponents talk big before the bout but then end up running from the champ (see for example, David Haye), Pulev came out with a game plan, went at the champion bravely–if perhaps too directly–and definitely didn’t run, landing a few hard shots of his own (the best coming in round 5, a right-left combo that snapped the champion’s head back hard just before Klitschko landed an even better punch, a crunching left hook that sent Pulev into la-la land) in the process.
Still relatively young in a division increasingly ruled by men in their late 30s to early 40s (Wladimir Klitschko is 38), Pulev should have a major role to play in the heavyweight division over the next few years.
The fighter has now announced that he has decided to stay with promoters Sauerland Event, and in doing so will make a switch in trainers, with the prolific Ulli Wegner (who has piloted the careers of champions like Arthur Abraham and Marco Huck, among others) taking over in Pulev’s corner.
In a press release, promoter Kalle Sauerland expressed his confidence that Pulev, who also boasts a stellar amateur background, is still a man with a bright future in the heavyweight division.
“Kubrat remains one of the best heavyweights in world and we’re delighted that he has decided to extend his contract,’” Sauerland says.
“The fight against Klitschko may have come a little too early after only twenty professional bouts, but will prove to be a huge learning experience for him. I’m confident [Pulev] will return better and stronger than ever. It’s only a matter of time before he gets a second shot at the world title and this time he will take it!”
Pulev, of course, returned the rosy sentiments, and says that Wegner is the man to guide him to a world championship belt.
“I’m very happy to extend my agreement with Team Sauerland. With their support I will be able to get back to my best,” Pulev says.
“I’m looking forward to working with Mr. Wegner,” the Bulgarian adds.
“He is one of the best in the business and his experience will be priceless in my quest to become world champion.”