Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev on December 12
By Robert Ecksel on October 17, 2020
He said of a unification bout with Tyson Fury, “It's the pot of gold at the end of rainbow.”
On Saturday, December 12, in a fight streamed live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK from The O2 in London, Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs), the IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion from Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, will defend his titles against perennial contender Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF mandatory from Sofia, Bulgaria.
If, or perhaps when AJ gets by Pulev, the hoped for unification bout with WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, who has an unfilled obligation to fight Deontay Wilder a third time, presumably next year, will have taken a step closer to being finalized.
“It's the pot of gold at the end of rainbow,” he told Sky Sports News, “but before that I've got to navigate my way through and Pulev is a big old heavyweight standing in the way of that pot of gold.”
Pulev’s only loss was by knockout to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, just before Dr. Steelhammer formally commenced his slide. But Pulev has won eight fights since then, the most significant being a split decision victory over Derek Chisora in 2016. The least significant of those wins is a toss-up.
“December 12 is the date,” said Joshua, “and once again, the heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13, they are in their rightful place in the UK.
“The O2 is the original lion’s den. I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans, something huge is missing. I am hoping that safety permitting, we might bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see. And I respect every opponent, and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
Pulev is tough. No one disputes that. One look at his face says it all. But without world-class power at his disposal, he may be in for a long, or rather short, night.
“For a small Bulgaria country to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment,” Pulev said. “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world. I’m coming to London to seize the heavyweight championship of the world.”
Joshua’s promoter, voluble Eddie Hearn, described the fight as “very special. Over a year after regaining his crown (from Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia), Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s résumé is unrivaled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge the undisputed crown next year.”
Despite liars proclaiming and troglodytes believing coronavirus is a conspiracy or hoax, the pandemic continues to rage. But a cavernous O2, even with cardboard cutouts and canned recordings of drunken fight fans singing Sweet Caroline, is the last thing Eddie Hearn has in mind.
“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event,” he said. “We have to move forward together.”