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Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev close to being finalized for June 13 or 20 in London

Anthony Joshua, Kubrat Pulev boxing photo

By Kenneth Friedman: IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s next IBF mandatory defense against Kubrat Pulev is close to being finalized for June 13 or June 20th in London, England. This is the first of 2 potential mandatory defenses Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) will be getting out of the way in 2020.

Tottenham and Arsenal Stadiums in play for Joshua-Pulev

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing revealed the news for ESPN on Wednesday. The two venues being looked at for Joshua’s next fight against Pulev are Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or Arsenal Stadium, both of which are in London.

This is where Joshua, 29, wants his next fight to take place as a gift to his loyal British boxing fans, but it’ll come at a price.

Joshua can probably make considerably more money for the Pulev fight by taking it outside of the UK. However, he wants to give his loyal fans a chance to see him without the need of expensive traveling.

Joshua hasn’t fought in the UK since his win over Alexander Povetkin in September 2018 in London. After that fight, Joshua fought in the United States against Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York last June. After that, Joshua fought in Saudi Arabia last December in a rematch.

Joshua has the WBO mandatory defense to fulfill against Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) this year. There’s a chance that it won’t happen in 2020. AJ is hoping that his promoters can set him up with the winner of the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 rematch in an undisputed heavyweight championship fight this year.

Pulev beat Hughie Fury to earn title shot

With the preponderance of mandatory challengers with little in the way of talent, Joshua would do well to start vacating some of his titles to avoid needless title defenses against poor heavyweights. Pulev has looked pedestrian in the last six years, and doesn’t seem to be a good fit for a world title shot against Joshua or WBC champion Wilder.

The 38-year-old Pulev did little to earn his IBF mandatory spot. The former world title challenger Pulev beat Hughie Fury in an IBF eliminator in 2018 to become Joshua’s mandatory.

Since losing to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, Pulev has put together a string of wins over guys that were more fringe level heavyweights than top tier guys.

Pulev’s fights since losing to Wladimir:

  • Rydell Booker – 38
  • Bogdan Dinu
  • Hughie Fury
  • Samuel Peter – 39
  • Maurice Hooker – 44
  • George Arias – 46
  • Kevin Johnson – 40

With those types of fights, Pulev is not a great fight for Joshua, which is why the boxing public isn’t excited about him taking this fight. Joshua is going to take the fight anyway, as his goal is to unify the weight class, but it doesn’t help him. He wants to become popular, but wasting his time fighting lesser opposition isn’t the way to achieve that goal.

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