BULGARIAN heavyweight Kubrat Pulev could block a rematch between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title and is due his shot at that world title. A request however has gone in for the IBF to allow the Klitschko rematch first.
“It was a great fight, super for boxing. It was a great advert for the sport,” Kalle Sauerland, Pulev’s promoter tells Boxing News. “As a fan I’d like to see it again but as Kubrat Pulev’s promoter I’m not too happy about that… I look after my guys, that’s what I’m there to do. At the end of the day I’ve got to make sure Kubrat Pulev’s looked after in terms of getting his fight. One thing I’m happy about, if they go again, if they allow the rematch to be the next fight, I’m very confident that he gets the winner, who I fully expect to be Anthony Joshua and we’ll have Joshua-Pulev. That’s the fight that Kubrat really wants. He was offered it. He was offered it as a voluntary. He turned it down. He knows that he gets better terms as a mandatory.
“In the name of boxing I would understand a decision against us, as Kubrat Pulev’s promoter of course we don’t. At the end we have to accept what the IBF decides.”
With the IBF, Sauerland continued, “We can’t now sit down and negotiate a deal with Anthony or with Eddie and look for step aside money, that doesn’t work here.
“They either allow the fight or not allow the fight. They either allow Pulev or [Joshua] is allowed to fight Klitschko. They won’t allow him to fight someone else. They won’t allow a [Deontay] Wilder fight or a Joe Parker fight. It’s all about the rematch. That’s been very clear.”
And if that rematch does that place, Sauerland insists, “We’ll want assurance of course that we’re the next in line, in absolute stone no matter how great a second fight should be.”
While Sauerland is convinced Klitschko wants the rematch, he also suspects the Briton will be unwilling to relinquish the IBF title. “Knowing fighters of that pedigree, they generally don’t give up belts, especially not the first one,” Kalle said.
Pulev has been eyeing the Joshua fight for some time. He’s been training for Joshua for a year. “He’s working towards it. He didn’t look great in his last fight. There’s a reason for that. It’s a very difficult space for him to be in at the moment,” Sauerland said. “It’s very difficult for a fighter against a guy who isn’t actually bad, Kevin Johnson can actually fight don’t forget, it’s a very difficult place to be. Whatever fight we make now, if it’s a keep busy opponent for Kubrat it’s a difficult challenge.
“If he has to wait, we’ll take a fight in the autumn, because I’m not going to let him go in a big fight like Joshua with ring rust on. So it is what it is.”
While Klitschko knocked out Pulev in five rounds in 2014, Sauerland warns that that result is deceptive. “If you watch the first round of the Klitschko fight, he catches Klitschko. He absolutely catches Klitschko. Klitschko is wobbling and he pulls a shot from the heavens,” Kalle said. “He catches Pulev full on.”
He put that defeat down to a tactical blunder, one Pulev won’t make against Joshua. “It was the most bizarre performance ever. The trainer got fired in the corner afterwards before we even got back to the dressing room. It was just a mad night,” Sauerland said. “He’s got a totally different trainer now in Uli Wegner. He’s had 14 world champions, Europe’s most successful trainer, including the UK. There’s no other trainer who’s done anything like that. No one touches Uli’s record in terms of developing champions over the last 20 years in professional years.
“It’s going to be an interesting fight that’s for sure.”