Kubrat Pulev (12-0, 6 KO) is a 30-year-old Bulgarian heavyweight, a former amateur standout and fixture at international tournaments, with his shining moment coming when he captured gold at the 2008 European Amateur Championships, beating Russia's Denis Sergeev in the finals. Turned pro in 2009, signed by Sauerland Event. Orthodox fighter, around 6'4" (height may be exaggerated an inch or so).
Pulev's amateur career means he's got real boxing ability, and isn't one of those flailing American heavyweight prospects who looks like he's taken boxercise classes and relies entirely on what his fly-by-night handlers have told him is "big power" in his right hand. He's faced some decent competition in his first 12 fights, including Gbenga Oloukun, Matt Skelton, Zack Page, Danny Batchelder, Paolo Vidoz, and Dominick Guinn. His greatest strength is his polish and ability to, you know, box. Solid puncher with both hands, has above average speed and footwork. Solid build, never appears sloppy or unprepared.
Power and stamina have been questioned. While he has enough power to keep guys honest, his KO power perception has taken a hit in recent fights. After starting 7-0 (5 KO), he's stopped just one of his last five opponents. He doesn't have the most upside, which is a curse of advanced amateur standouts (Alexander Povetkin, Odlanier Solis, etc.) -- they sort of are what they are and it's a case of how well it translates to the pro ranks. Some feel he'll never be a serious world title contender, and may stagnate at high-end European level.
vs Gbenga Oloukun (2009-11-07) - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3
vs Danny Batchelder (2010-03-13) - Part 1 and Part 2
vs Matt Skelton (2010-01-30) - Part 1 and Part 2
vs Derric Rossy (2011-05-07) - Part 1 and Part 2
Other Heavyweight Prospects
I might have gone with Robert Helenius (15-0, 10 KO), but with his knockout of Samuel Peter, I think he's jumped just slightly out of the prospect circle and into contender status. Russia's Denis Boytsov (28-0, 23 KO) is a very good 25-year-old prospect, whose only setback thus far has been some hand issues.
My actual favorite prospect in the division is now firmly Cuba's Mike Perez (16-0, 12 KO). Perez is 25 and just more or less stormed through a Prizefighter fielder in May. Based in Ireland, Perez will eventually attract interest from someone in the States or Germany.
As for American heavyweights, since people always ask about them, the pickings remain slim. Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell (22-0-1, 16 KO) is getting some buzz, but he's also 28 and still needs a lot of work. Former Olympian Deontay Wilder (16-0, 16 KO) has faced beyond lousy competition for three years as a pro and has tested the patience of fans who were interested in how he'd turn out. He's built up what is at this point a deserved reputation as an absurdly protected fighter.
Newark's Joe Hanks (16-0, 11 KO) has already faced better competition than Wilder, and frankly has been a more impressive pro. New York's Tor Hamer (13-1, 9 KO) is also definitely still worth watching. The truth about American heavyweights is, though, that they're almost always going to be behind the European standout prospects -- guys like Povetkin and Pulev and Boytsov are just better-schooled fighters, and unless the American amateur program improves drastically, that's not going to change in the near future.