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Mark De Mori out, Rydell Booker in against Kubrat Pulev November 9th

Pulev remains the IBF mandatory heavyweight challenger

Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev Press Conference Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Good news! Kubrat Pulev won’t be fighting Mark De Mori on the November 9th Jamel Herring-Lamont Roach Jr. ESPN+ show in Fresno. Bad news! The new matchup still kinda sucks. ESPN reports that Pulev has “verbally agreed” to face former amateur standout Rydell Booker after the De Mori deal “fell apart.”

Booker (26-2, 13 KO) started his pro career in 2001, winning his first 22 bouts before running afoul of a red-hot James Toney who was coming off of wins over Vassily Jirov and Evander Holyfield. He subsequently spent over a decade in prison, only returning to the ring last year. Now 38, he’s gone 4-1 in his comeback, most notably dropping a decision to kinda-sorta-not-really prospect Jermaine Franklin in April.

He’s still a more palatable option than never-was De Mori, even if he doesn’t figure to be more than a stay-busy foe while Pulev (27-1, 14 KO) waits for Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua to settle their differences.