It certainly looks like Unified Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.
This after a late Monday night report from ESPN boxing Insider Dan Rafael, who says that the champ, his promoter Eddie Hearn and Pulev’s camp have been given a deadline extension of January 31st to make the fight happen:
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) January 21, 2020
Rafael quoted John Wirt of Epic Sports, who markets/manages Pulev, as saying the negotiations have picked up for Joshua – Pulev to take place, probably in May.
“We are very close in my opinion, but the real issue is everyone’s trying to vet offers [from sites] that are coming in from all over,” Wirt said. “The only continents not in play to my knowledge are Antarctica and Australia.”
On the location, we wrote last week that Joshua’s next defense would most likely be held in the newly redesigned and renovated Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.
The IBF had originally given the two sides until January 11th to agree to a deal for Joshua’s next title fight, as Pulev was named the organization’s number one contender last fall. Joshua, 22-1, just regained the WBA, IBF and WBO championships with a 12 round unanimous decision rematch win over American Andy Ruiz in early December.
A further complication is that Hearn and Matchroom Boxing are also negotiating with the management team for WBO number one contender and unbeaten former Cruiserweight World champ, Olexandr Usyk. They met last Thursday, as the WBO has likewise has ordered Joshua to fight Usyk next.
Hearn has also been in discussions with Usyk and his team about a lucrative contender fight with England’s Dereck Chisora for a date in late February or March.
Part of this scenario would be that Usyk would be compensated by Hearn/Matchroom for delaying as Joshua’s WBO mandatory and then, be guaranteed to be next in line to fight Joshua later in the summer or early fall, should Usyk be victorious in his second fight as a heavyweight.
Pulev, 28-1, challenged for the Heavyweight Title once before, losing on a 12-round decision to then Undisputed Champion, Wladimir Klitschko, in 2014. He has won his eight fights since, mostly against nondescript competition.
Further, Pulev has not been very active having only fought three times over the last thirty three months.