Top Rank has signed a co-promotional deal with heavyweight contender and IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, ESPN reports, as they will now help Epic Sports get Pulev ready for a fight sometime down the road with Anthony Joshua, or whomever holds the IBF heavyweight title once that comes around.
Pulev (26-1, 13 KO) won his Oct. 27 eliminator over Hughie Fury in his native Bulgaria to earn the mandatory position, and Bob Arum says the plan is to bring him back against a good opponent to get him ready for Joshua. The next Pulev fight is likely to come, Arum says, in March.
Pulev, 37, has had one world title shot already in his career, when he was wiped out by Wladimir Klitschko back in Nov. 2014. But to Pulev’s credit, he got smashed the way he did because he actually tried to go for it against Klitschko, which many of Wladimir’s opponents over the years just didn’t. If he’d wanted, he probably could’ve been tentative, accepted Klitschko’s jab in his face, and survived 12 rounds, too, as many others did.
Arum is confident that Pulev can beat Anthony Joshua:
“He’s willing to risk the mandatory position because just to be the mandatory to go in and get slaughtered by Joshua and not be prepared makes no sense. But if he fights a top guy and hones his skills and is in fighting shape, he’ll beat Joshua.”
As for whom this “top guy” will be, I frankly wouldn’t expect much. There are really only a few “top guys” in the heavyweight division, and they’re all tied up elsewhere, basically. I’m just saying if it winds up being someone like Lucas Browne or Mariusz Wach or Johann Duhaupas, don’t be surprised.