Joshua vs. Pulev is OFF for Oct.28!
By Jeff Aranow: Anthony Joshua’s title defense against his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13 KOs) is now officially off or October 28 for the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Pulev, 36, suffered a right shoulder injury, according to ESPN. They were unable to salvage the fight unfortunately.
The 6’4 1/2″ Pulev, who comes from Bulgaria, suffered the shoulder injury a week ago, but the injury was “secret”, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN, until it was obvious that the injury was not going to let him take the fight on the scheduled October 28 date.
They’re reportedly still trying to save the October 28 fight card, but it’s going to be hard to do. The co-feature bout is the heavyweight clash between #3 WBC Dillian Whyte and fringe contender Robert Helenius.
Matchroom Sport may opt to slide the Whyte-Helenius fight into the main event. However, with 70,000 boxing fans expected to attend, it’s a not a high profile enough fight for a crowd of that size to see. There will likely be a flood of boxing fans asking for their money back now that Joshua is off the card. He’s the one they want to see, not Whyte in a mismatch against the recently knocked out Helenius. That fight has taken a major criticism from boxing fans, as they’re not impressed with Whyte facing the 6’7 ½” Helenius. They wanted to see Whyte face someone goo that is a threat to beating him. Helenius was recently destroyed by former heavyweight world title challenger Johann Duhaupas.
One way of Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn could save his October 28 card is to slide Whyte into the main event against Joshua instead of him facing Helenius. We saw WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder make a similar move when his scheduled November 4 opponent Luis Ortiz tested positive for banned drugs. Bermane Stiverne, who was scheduled to fight Dominic Breazeale in the co-feature fight on the card, slid into the main event to face Wilder. It was an easy thing to do because Stiverne was already Wilder’s World Boxing Council mandatory challenger.
Hearn might not want to make the Joshua-Whyte fight on short notice, as he has ideas of trying to get Whyte a world title first before he sets up an eventual rematch between him and Joshua. Hearn is trying to force Wilder to face Whyte in hopes that Whyte can beat him. In other words, Hearn appears to want Wilder out of Joshua’s hair. Whyte is the guy that he’s counting on being able to do that. Hearn is probably not going to want to put Whyte in with Joshua without him holding a world title, considering it’ll mean less PPV buys on Sky Box Office.
This is disappointing news for Joshua. Unless Hearn can salvage his October 28th date by finding another opponent, he’s probably going to be out of the ring for a period of time while Pulev’s shoulder heals. Despite being injured, Pulev won’t lose his status as the International Boxing Federation mandatory challenger to Joshua. The fight will take place likely in early 2018. Whether Joshua can take an interim title defense while Pulev heals up is the major question.