Since Anthony Joshua’s next challenger was confirmed as Kubrat Pulev, many are asking why he chose to face the Bulgarian?
Wladmir Klitschko took him to the 11th round in Wembley earlier this year, but was knocked out after a thrilling slugfest in front of 90,000 fans in Wembley.
Although both fighters had signed a 2-match agreement, Klitschko hung up his gloves in the summer via a message that was termed ‘the epitome of class’.
In his retired message, he said he never imagined he would have a long and successful career, both as an amateur and professional boxer. After thanking his family, team, friends and fans, the 41-year-old’s conclusion earned him a standing ovation across the boxing world.
“My heart is at peace as I pass the torch to Anthony Joshua – the next generation. Good luck little bro, I’m proud of you!”, he said.
So, it was set, Joshua vs Pulev at the Principality Stadium for 28 October. Immediately, many questions and raised eyebrows were directed to this fight.
Since Klitschko was gone, Joshua had no option but to take on IBF’s number 1 challenger Pulev.
If Joshua had chosen a different opponent, he would have been stripped of the IBF belt which he had won last April against Charles Martin.
Joshua added the WBA ‘super’ title to the IBF belt after his win over Klitschko. In August, the WBA ordered him to face mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz.
IBF defence, a priority
However, the IBF defence took priority, with an agreement already in place for Pulev to receive the next title shot.
Promoter Eddie Hearn hopes to reach a resolution with the WBA, allowing Joshua to face Pulev first. It is thought that Joshua will face Ortiz in his first fight of 2018.
Hearn said: “The plan is Pulev, Ortiz then if [Deontay] Wilder still has a belt then AJ can relieve him of that next summer”.
WBC champion Deontay Wilder had previously called for a clash against Joshua, with three world titles at stake, but the American is now thought to be lining up a fight against Ortiz.
Pulev has 25 victories, 13 of which are knockouts, plus one defeat from a fifth-round knockout from Klitschko in 2014. Joshua has 19 victories, all knockouts and 0 defeats.