By Dean Berman: A fight is in the works between heavyweights Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) and Adam Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs) for February 22 on the undercard of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury rematch, according to @TheAthleticBOX.
Pulev, 38, is the mandatory challenger for the WBO belt. He’s waiting for the smoke to clear from the Saudi card on December 7 to find out who he’ll be facing.
Pulev vs. Kownacki could be for WBO title
There’s a chance that the Pulev vs. Kownacki fight could potentially be for the International Boxing Federation title if Anthony Joshua defeats Andy Ruiz Jr. in their rematch on December 7th. The belief is that Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) will vacate the IBF title, and hold onto the WBO in order to face fellow Matchroom Boxing fighter Oleksandr Usyk.
Once Joshua vacates the WBO belt, then the Pulev-Kownacki fight have a lot more meaning, as they’ll fight for the strap.
Kownacki, 30, could be a real problem for Pulev due his punching power, boxing skills and youth. The Polish fighter Kownacki has looked good in his last in his last two fights in beating Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington.
Kownacki looked much improved from his performance against Charles Martin, as he had problems with the height, reach and the movement from the former IBF champion. Martin didn’t use a lot of movement, but he was still able to give Kownacki fits.
Kownacki beat Martin by a 10 round unanimous decision by the scores 96-94, 96-94 and 96-94. That match showed that Kownacki is going to need to make a lot of improvements in his game for him to have a chance against the elite heavyweights. The things that Martin did in using movement aren’t within the 6’4 1/2″ Pulev’s capabilities. Pulev doesn’t move well due to age, and his size. He’s good at coming forward to attack, but that’s about it.
Pulev vs. Kownacki = toss-up fight
This is a match both guys can win. Pulev would have been a favorite five years ago, but he’s slowed down a lot due to age Kownacki has a chance to win this if he can keep his weight down.
Pulev had a chance to fight Joshua two years ago, as he was his mandatory back in 2017. The Bulgarian fighter suffered a shoulder injury, and had to be replaced by Carlos Takam.
Pulev was able to quickly earn the mandatory spot once again by beating Hughie Fury by a 12 round unanimous decision last year in October. Since that fight, Pulev has been in a holding pattern in taking easy fights against Rydell Booker and Bogdan Dinu while he waits for a title shot.
Pulev used to have a nice jab in his prime, but it’s a lot of the zip that it once had on it. Now he mainly walks his opponents down, and clubs them with slow right hands, and left hooks. That style of fighting will be perfect for Kownacki, who does well against fighters that come forward and fight slowly. Pulev can’t revert back to the fighter he once was, because age has taken over.