With the deadline approaching for Unified Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua, to make a deal with IBF number one contender, Kubrat Pulev, there continues to be much debate and negotiation about whether the fight will get finalized in time and where it will be?
And, on Tuesday night in Miami after the press conferences for the upcoming World Championship Tripleheader featuring Demetrius Andrade defending his WBO 160 lb Title, Matchroom Boxing Eddie Hearn gave an update on the Joshua – Pulev status to Sky Sports:
?"Most likely, end of May, early June, Joshua-Pulev in the UK."@EddieHearn says that terms have almost been finalised for Anthony Joshua's next fight against Kubrat Pulev. ? pic.twitter.com/32mZPCfXqO
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) January 29, 2020
“We need another two weeks and it will be finalized. Almost certainly, that will be ‘A.J.’s’ next fight. And almost certainly, in the U.K.”
As we have previously written, the IBF mandated that Joshua fight Pulev, a 38 year old Bulgarian contender, as his next opponent. And, they set an original deadline of January 15th or Joshua would risk being stripped of their belt. That deadline has already been extended to this Friday (January 31st).
And, if you are thinking that the IBF won’t drop Joshua as champ because of deal not being made by their deadline, then look no further than that organization stripping Canelo Alvarez last August for the same reason.
But now, with Hearn suggesting that the deadline should be pushed back more as there are apparently multiple countries who are willing to pay more money for a Joshua World title fight (like Saudi Arabia did for his rematch with Andy Ruiz last December), maybe the IBF waits.
It has been widely reported in the British sports media that Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the preferred venue for Joshua and Matchroom to stage the fight. However, obviously, Pulev and his camp won’t agree to the money and/or the site in combination or it would have already been done/announced.
So now, the question becomes: will the IBF extend the deadline, again, with the two sides talking intensively or go ahead and elect to strip Joshua? Then, they would designate an opponent for Pulev for the vacant belt.
Also waiting in the wings is former Cruiserweight World Champ Oleksandr Usyk, who has now moved up to heavyweight and was immediately instated as the WBO’s number one contender. They, like the IBF, have been demanding that Joshua fight Usyk at some point in the first half of 2020.
Hearn and Matchroom, which have a promotional deal with Usyk and his promoters have been negotiating and working with them to delay the Joshua-Usyk match up until after he fights Pulev.
It is believed that Hearn has a March date all but set, for Usyk to make significant non-title money to fight British heavyweight Contender Dereck Chisora, while he waits.
But now, the clock is ticking on a Joshua – Pulev fight to get done and you wonder whether Matchroom might not just move on to Joshua fighting Usyk and let the IBF belt go.
After all, Usyk is the more marketable, hard-punching, unbeaten, former Olympic champion, who won the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight title. And, he successfully defended it on a couple of occasions before moving up to heavyweight.
That’s obviously more than Pulev, who at near 40 hasn’t won a significant fight in the last three years, has to offer.