IF you thought Dillian Whyte was dining out on a gutsy – albeit losing – effort against Anthony Joshua, and an amateur win over the current world heavyweight champion, you’d be wrong. Moreover, if you thought he was about to have it easy en route to a title shot, you’d be wrong on that count, too.
In fact, to do so, to get his opportunity, there’s every chance the Londoner might have to venture to Bulgaria to face Kubrat Pulev, one of the nation’s sporting heroes.
“It is 95 percent sure that this game (against Whyte) will be held in Bulgaria,” Pulev wrote on Facebook today.
“For me, it is most important to be able to make Bulgarian people happy, and such an event can really remain in history. There’ll be a real and incredible atmosphere.
“The match will be staged (at a place) where as many people as possible can go and see it.”
The purse bid for the Pulev vs. Whyte matchup was decided on Thursday and won by promoter Epic Sports & Entertainment, who, strangely, promote neither of the boxers involved. Hosted by former Don King attorney John Wirt, they won with a bid of $1,500,111, beating Matchroom Boxing, Whyte’s promoter, who offered $831,111, and Pulev promoter Team Sauerland, who bid $801,305.
Thirty-seven-year-old Pulev is entitled to 75 percent of the winning bid ($1,125,083.25), and Whyte will receive 25 percent ($375,027.75).
Of greater concern to Whyte, though, will be the location of the fight. On the evidence of today’s Facebook post, Kubrat Pulev seems fairly adamant he’s not leaving the comfort of his Sofia for anyone.
Last week it was announced that Luis Nery, the disobedient former WBC bantamweight champion, was set to fight Jetro Pabustan in a 10-rounder at the Municipal Auditorium in Nery’s hometown of Tijuana, Mexico.
However, the WBC, once learning of this plan, decided to throw a proverbial spanner in the works and have now forced the fight to be cancelled.
The bout was to be Nery’s first since being stripped of his 118-pound title for failing to make weight ahead of his two-round demolition of Shinsuke Yamanaka in March.
“Along with his representatives, Luis Nery attended an audience on March 9 (with WBC representatives),” the WBC said in a statement. “During this hearing, the position of the WBC was to reach a settlement after considering the best way to help the boxer return to the ring and also to eventually contest the world championship of the World Boxing Council.
“WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman put forward two clear options to Luis Nery.
“The first was for him to accept the conditions of the WBC in order to correct the problems which led him to lose the world title.
“The second option was for Nery to ignore the body and pursue his career on a different path. Nery clarified that he would follow any regulation imposed by the WBC. We deeply regret the decision of Nery to fight while being suspended by the WBC. Due to this action, it is clear that his decision has changed.”
Following the release of this statement, the promoter of Nery’s next fight, Zanfer Promotions, responded with one of their own, revealing the fight had been canned and that Nery wouldn’t schedule another until the WBC lift his suspension.
“Zanfer Promotions informs that former WBC bantamweight world champion Luis ‘Pantera’ Nery will not fight June 9 as announced,” the company said.
“Nery will wait for the resolution of the World Boxing Council. (Nery) will fully comply with the guidelines to which he committed himself.”
Considering his chequered history of failed drug tests and missing weight, that will be a first.
And finally… some good news on the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super-middleweight tournament front. George Groves WILL go to the ball.
It was announced today that Groves, last seen fighting with a gammy left arm following a shoulder dislocation, has been medically cleared to take his spot in the 168-pound tournament final against Callum Smith, now set for either late August or early September.
It’s the end the story needs, the bit of clarity the tournament needs, and prevents Chris Eubank Jr, the man Groves conquered in the semi, filling the void and potentially hitting the jackpot by default.
Now all that remains to be seen is how Groves’ shoulder holds up on the night, when faced with a big, strong and physically imposing super-middleweight with similar ambitions. It’s one thing punching pads and bags but getting in the ring and performing under stress and duress is another thing entirely.
Someone who understands this better than most is David Haye, the former world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion who has not only experienced his body breaking down during fights but has also suffered a career-threatening shoulder injury and even shares a physiotherapist with Groves.
“There are probably a hundred different types of injury he could have done to his shoulder,” Haye told Boxing News. “I don’t know what type of injury it was.
“But I know he has the best physio in the world in Kevin Lidlow, so, in terms of giving him the best advice and the best chance of a full recovery, George has all bases covered.
“If he’s rescheduling the fight, you can bet your bottom dollar he will be 100% ready for it. I’ve had horrendous injuries in the past, and a physio like Kevin won’t allow you to get in the ring if he thinks something is going to pop again.
“With something like that, rehabilitation is really heavy and really gruelling. It’s probably more gruelling, in fact, than the actual training camp itself. He has to make sure it’s rock solid and ready to perform.”
Haye continued: “I remember Vitali Klitschko had a shoulder injury that forced him to retire against Chris Byrd, a fight he lost, but he managed to come back and make a full recovery.
“Then again, James DeGale had a shoulder injury and didn’t look himself in his next fight. In his last fight he looked a lot better, so maybe he just needed a bit more time to let his problem heal.
“It’s all about how George recovers. Has he done the right rehabilitation? The fact he has the same physio as me would suggest he’s in the very best hands and will be back to his full potential.”