Kubrat Pulev ready to fight Anthony Joshua behind closed doors
By Tim Royner: Kubrat ‘The Cobra’ Pulev is ready to face IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua behind closed doors if needed on June 20. The Joshua-Pulev fight is still on for June 20, according to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, but he already has a backup date in case it needs to be postponed.
With events involving crowds being suspended in the UK and other countries, the sport of boxing may need to take place without spectators behind closed doors for it to continue in the short term while the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause misery for the world.
Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) and Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) are scheduled to meet this summer on June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in Tottenham, London, UK. However, Joshua’s promoter Hearn stated on Monday that the fight could be moved to July 25 if the coronavirus remains present.
Pulev willing to fight Joshua without spectators
“I’m ready for June 20, July 25, whenever they say,” Pule said to bTV channel. “You see what the situation is, the whole world must adjust to it.
“There’s no problem (if the fight is) to be without spectators. Everyone would be at home, they can pay per view, so I don’t see any problem financially.
“The show could be lost a bit without fans but it can still happen. After all, it’s a world championship, which must take place,” said Pulev.
While a lot of boxing fans view Joshua-Pulev fight as a lackluster affair, it’s one that Joshua has to get out of the way for him to take on WBC champion Tyson Fury in December. Pulev, who will be turning 39 in May, is Joshua’s IBF mandatory challenger, and he must face him if he wants to hold onto that title.
Although Joshua could easily vacate the IBF title and face Fury without the hassle of fighting Pulev first, he’s not interested in doing that. Joshua’s goal is to become the undisputed heavyweight champion in holding all 4 titles. To do that, Joshua has to get Pulev out of the way.
Joshua, 29, recently defeated champion Andy Ruiz Jr. by a 12 round unanimous decision on December 7 to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO titles. AJ had lost those belts in his previous fight against Ruiz Jr. in getting stopped in the 7th round last summer in June.
In the rematch with Ruiz, Joshua changed his fighting style and adopted the Wladimir Klitschko approach. AJ used a lot of jabbing, moving and holding to win the fight. Needless to say, it wasn’t interesting to watch, but it worked for Joshua.
Pulev gets a second chance at fighting Joshua
It would be a good idea for Pulev to take it easy during his training camp to make sure he doesn’t get hurt again. At 38, some fighters are prone to injury, and it would be a shame if the Bulgarian Pulev loses out on yet another chance to fight Joshua.
Kubrat was supposed to fight Joshua in 2017, but he suffered a shoulder injury sparring and had to pull out of the fight. That was a huge loss for Pulev, as he would have made a lot of money. With Pulev injured, Joshua went ahead and defeated replacement opponent Carlos Takam in Cardiff, Wales.
Pulev has done a good job of putting himself back in position as the IBF mandatory by defeating these fighters:
- Hughie Fury
- Rydell Booker
- Bogdan Dinu
Some boxing fans are critical of how easy the International Boxing Federation made it for Pulev to become the IBF mandatory by him only needing to defeat Hughie, who is the nephew of Tyson Fury.
Although Hughie has some talent, he’s not viewed as one of the better heavyweights in the division. Some believe that Pulev should have had to defeat a talented heavyweight like Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker or Daniel Dubois to earn the IBF mandatory spot.
Joshua has Usyk to worry about after Pulev
Another roadblock that could potentially impede Joshua’s path to a unification fight against Fury is his WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukrainian fighter Usyk has made it known that he wants his title shot against Joshua in 2020. In other words, Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) doesn’t want to wait until after Joshua faces Fury.
You can’t blame Usyk for that because it’s better for him if Joshua and Fury don’t fight each other first. The reason for that is the loser of the Joshua-Fury fight will no longer be a world champion, and their popularity could be diminished. It’s better for Usyk if he faces Joshua while he’s still the IBF/WBA/WBO champion and then take on WBC champ Fury afterward.
- Anthony Joshua too “chinny” to beat Oleksandr Usyk in rematch says Bob Arum
- Frank Warren says Joshua shouldn’t face Usyk in immediate rematch
- Tyson Fury on losing $250M fight with Joshua: Deontay has cost me a few quid
- Eddie Hearn says Joshua insisting on Usyk rematch, won’t step aside