ANTHONY JOSHUA will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London on Saturday December 12. Sky Sports Box Office will broadcast in the UK while DAZN will show the event in the US. Matchroom Boxing, in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment, will promote.
Pulev, 39, was supposed to challenge Joshua in October 2017 until an injury ruled him out. He is the IBF mandatory and has won eight in a row – including victories over Dereck Chisora and Hughie Fury – since losing to Wladimir Klitschko in five rounds in 2014.
He now stands in the way of a proposed mega-fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury, the WBC boss, in 2021.
Joshua has been out of the ring since December, when he outpointed Andy Ruiz Jnr in Saudi Arabia to regain his titles following a shock loss to Ruiz last summer.
is the date and once again the heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my
sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place
in the UK,” said Joshua.
“The O2 is the original lion’s den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see. I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev. “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the heavyweight Championship of the World.”
“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified world heavyweight championship is very special,” stated promoter Eddie Hearn. “Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous challenger in Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s resume is unrivalled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year.
“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become world champion on Dec 12 but AJ constantly evolves and improves and I expect a dominant performance and a spectacular KO to close out 2020.”
Bob Arum, Top Rank Chairman, said: “Eddie Hearn better watch out. Kubrat Pulev is going to destroy his plan for a Joshua-Tyson Fury unification fight.” It has been reported that Lawrence Okolie will take on Krzysztof Glowacki in a on the undercard.