Kubrat Pulev signs multi-year deal with Top Rank
By Jim Dower: Top Rank has signed former heavyweight world title challenger Kubrat Pulev (26-1, 13 KOs) to a co-promotional deal, according to ESPN. It’s a multi-year deal for the 37-year-old Pulev, who is currently the mandatory challenger to International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. It’s a great deal for Top Rank to sign the 6’4 1/2″ Pulev when he’s on the verge of challenging for a world title against Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs).
Pulev is also promoted by Epic Sports, and they’re looking to get him his world title shot against Joshua. Pulev recently defeated Hughie Fury by a 12 round unanimous decision in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator on October 27 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pulev dominated the 6’6″ Fury to earn the right to fight Joshua. Pulev was set to fight Joshua last year in October 2017, but he suffered an arm injury and had to pull out of the fight two eeks before the contest. Matchroom Boxing, the promoters for Joshua, brought in Carlos Takam and used him as the replacement opponent.
“Our plan for him is to have him fight a very significant [main event] fight on ESPN in the first first three months of the year, probably in March and get him ready and known to go into the Joshua fight,” Pulev’s new co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said to ESPN.com.
It’s a risky move on Arum’s part to put Pulev in with a good opponent like he’s talking about wanting to do. Unless it’s someone that isn’t a real threat to beating Pulev, Arum should consider taking it easy on the the former Bulgarian amateur star until after he gets his mandatory title shot against Joshua. Pulev already missed out on one title shot against Joshua last year in 2017. It would be a shame if Pulev misses out on a second world title shot opportunity. Pulev is just fortunate that he only needed to defeat Hughie Fury for him to put himself in position to challenge for a world title against Joshua. It could have been far worse if Pulev had to face someone like Dillian Whyte or Luis Ortiz to earn the mandatory spot with the IBF.
Arum says Pulev is willing to risk his mandatory spot by having him fight a good heavyweight likely in March. Arum states that it doesn’t make any sense for Pulev to fight Joshua and get slaughtered immediately by him. He would be better off fighting someone good that can improve his game to get him ready for the 6’6″ Joshua. Pulev is about to turn 38. It’s hard to know how much improvement he can make in his game by taking on a tough opponent at his age. If anything, Pulev could deteriorate if he fights a good young heavyweight with punching power. Pulev is already the finished article. He doesn’t need to learn much more. Pulev had a long amateur career in Bulgaria, and he fought all kinds of different fighters during that time.
Four years ago, Pulev challenged heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, and he was stopped in the 4th round. Pulev was getting caught by Wladimir’s left hooks repeatedly in the fight. Since that loss, Pulev has put together a six-fight winning streak, beating Hughie Fury, Dereck Chisora, Kevin Johnson, George Arias, Maurice Harris and Samuel Peter. Johnson, Chisora, Fury, and Peter are all former heavyweight world title challengers. Harris was at one time a major player in the heavyweight division 18 years ago. He just was never able to take his career to the next level, but he was still a talented guy. Pulev has looked good when fighting quality fighters. He had no problems beating Hughie and Chisora.