BULGARIA’S Kubrat Pulev might not represent the sexiest fight on the table for Dillian Whyte in 2018, but it may well be his next one and it would certainly be a meaningful one.
A win over Pulev in an IBF title eliminator should deliver Whyte the world heavyweight title shot he has long craved and also throw him back in the mix for a rematch against Anthony Joshua, the only man to defeat him as a professional.
But not so fast.
Today, Pulev, inactive for over a year, someone who withdrew from a Joshua title shot last October, claimed to be unaware of a potential Whyte showdown.
“Until a few days ago nobody had spoken to me about a fight on a particular date,” Pulev, 25-1 (13), said in a statement.
“I learned that from the media. My promoters Kalle and Nisse Sauerland are amazing people, but we are rarely in contact and there’s been no mention of a fight with Dillian Whyte.
“I do want to fight with him and I think that he is a perfect opponent for me. But around every fight there are a lot of things that need to be agreed before setting a date.
“It is getting pretty interesting in the heavyweight division. Regarding being the official contender of the IBF, everything is great. I am happy that I will be in the ring again very soon.”
Dillian Whyte, 23-1 (17), won’t be panicking. Seemingly blessed with options, he has taken to calling out pretty much every heavyweight on the planet, from Russian Alexander Povetkin to novice Joe Joyce to even David Haye, just seconds after Haye’s career seemed to come to an end in defeat to Tony Bellew.
Whyte wants to fight. If nothing else, we can glean that from this heavyweight merry-go-round.
Those Tony Bellew and Andre Ward rumours just won’t go away. Two weeks on from his fifth round stoppage of David Haye and Tony Bellew is still being linked to Ward, the retired former super-middleweight and light-heavyweight king, and still indicating it is that fight, more than any other, he wants next.
“He wants it and I want it,” Bellew, the one-time WBC world cruiserweight champion, told Sky Sports.
“Ward wants to fight at cruiserweight or heavyweight, so we will see. I don’t think he’s ever been properly retired.
“He has stayed in the gym and he’s come out in public and said he’s been sparring once a week. Boxing is a hard game to come away from, speaking from experience.
“We are coming towards the end of our careers and have been in some wars, so we’ve both got to be happy to get it on.
“I believe I can beat him two ways: I can outbox him or chin him.
“I’m bigger and stronger than him, my range is better, but he’s probably quicker. Although he is a master on the inside, an old general, I think I can prove to people that I’m better there.
“I just believe I can beat him any way I choose. Whether the fight is at cruiserweight or even at heavyweight, I don’t know yet. I just know I can beat Andre Ward. There is no doubt in my mind.”
If it happens, it would presumably make more sense at cruiserweight than at heavyweight. But first Bellew, 30-2-1 (20), must persuade Ward to renege on the retirement he announced last year, shortly after stopping light-heavyweight rival Sergey Kovalev in eight rounds.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Bellew,” Ward, 32-0 (16), told Sky Sports. “I think he’s a quality fighter and it would not be an easy fight.
“The mistake guys make is they think it is just power, just strength. That is where Tony is going already. He’s saying he’s too big and too strong. It’s going to take more than that.
“Two places I haven’t fought that are on my bucket list are Madison Square Garden and the UK. I’ve got a tremendous fanbase in the UK.”
“Tremendous” might be a stretch, but Ward certainly has the respect of British fight aficionados and, given his exploits at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight, would be welcomed with open arms.