Kubrat Pulev was scheduled to face Anthony Joshua in 2017, but had to pull out due to an injury. Today, he wrapped up a frustrating 2018 where several fights fell through by perhaps ensuring his shot at Joshua in 2019.
Pulev outpointed Hughie Fury today in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning an IBF heavyweight eliminator on scores of 115-113, 117-111, and 118-110. BLH had it 117-111 Pulev.
The 24-year-old Fury comes up short in his second major fight, following a 2017 loss to then-WBO titleholder Joseph Parker. It was a tough night for Fury (21-2, 11 KO), who suffered a bad cut on his left eyelid in the second round, and spent much of the fight on the back foot, trying to sucker Pulev (26-1, 13 KO) into a mistake, which just never really came.
Fury was able to land the odd good shot, particularly with his right hand, but never established any real rhythm, and gassed down the stretch. Pulev, meanwhile, was consistent throughout 12 rounds at age 37 and after a long in-ring layoff, proving completely that he is, in fact, still a contender in this division.
Anthony Joshua, who has the IBF title along with the WBA and WBO belts, is set to return in April 2019 at Wembley Stadium. The lead contender for that fight is thought to be Dillian Whyte, but the IBF could potentially order the Pulev fight next, or it may wait until later next year. But at some point, however it goes down, Pulev is going to get his shot at the IBF title.