BULGARIAN challenger Kubrat Pulev did not want to miss out on his hugely lucrative October 28 clash with unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The live gate would have filled the 80,000 seat Principality stadium in Cardiff and, after Joshua’s thrilling victory over Wladimir Klitschko, his next fight will do big business on pay-per-view.
But after damaging his pectoral muscle in training, Pulev ultimately withdrew from the fight and walked away from a seven figure payday. Some fighters would have taken a bout with one arm, even against someone as dangerous as Anthony Joshua, for that kind of money.
Pulev explained his decision. “I am aware that the news of my injury and the subsequent cancellation of the match between me and Anthony Joshua for the world title surprised you,” he said. “It wasn’t easy for me to make that decision. I know, in my place, almost everyone would choose to get into the ring in Cardiff, despite everything and collect a few million… Anyone else, but not me.”
He felt he would not be in a position to actually win the fight and so decided not to go through with it. He continued, “In my life and in my world, it’s not all money. I’ve learned that a man goes into battle to win it. I understand that despite the vicissitudes of life, a man should not cheat on his beliefs.”
“I take it as a sign. If God decided, then that’s how it was meant to be. Still, I will be myself and I will not betray my principles. A few million won’t make me richer or happier,” he added. “My wealth is the undying love of the Bulgarian people, from whom I always buy strength and inspiration and that gives me the meaning of everything I do.”
He believes replacement opponent Carlos Takam will be a proper challenger for the champion. “Anthony Joshua has to defend world titles against a strong rival and I’m glad he already has one,” Pulev stated on social media. “We’re moving on.”
A further blow is that while Pulev won’t lose his place in the rankings, Takam now becomes Joshua’s mandatory challenger. It will be some time now before Joshua has to fight the Bulgarian. Pulev will have to bide his time and hope he can still get the fight. “I’m still more thirsty for this battle, and I think it’s only a matter of time. It is such challenges that make my heart beat hard and feel that I am truly alive,” he said.
“Thank you from the heart to all Bulgarians for faith and support. They mean a lot to me.”