By Keith Idec
If Bob Arum’s game plan unfolds the way the legendary promoter hopes, Kubrat Pulev will win Saturday night and challenge Anthony Joshua in his following fight.
Bulgaria’s Pulev (27-1, 13 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF heavyweight title. The 37-year-old contender first must overcome Romania’s Bogdan Dinu (18-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 12-rounder ESPN will televise live Saturday night from The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), who’ll challenge Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, stopped Dinu in the fourth round of Dinu’s last fight, November 17 in Mulvane, Kansas. Pulev most recently defeated England’s Hughie Fury (21-2, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder October 27 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
“He’s the IBF mandatory to Joshua,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “Joshua’s fighting June 1st. We probably would look to give Pulev another fight before challenging Joshua, but we’ll see. Pulev is not in easy [Saturday night]. [Dinu has] got a pretty good record and he’s a pretty good fighter. But we’re definitely gonna look to do the Joshua fight within the year. And unlike Mr. Haymon [with Deontay Wilder], Joshua is controlled by Eddie Hearn and DAZN. So, we would look to do the fight with them because they are clearly the ‘A’ side. We’re not gonna play games and I’m sure Eddie is gonna be fair and we’ll get a big amount for Pulev.”
Arum’s Top Rank Inc. signed Pulev to a co-promotional agreement late last year. He has no problem having Pulev challenge England’s Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) in a fight streamed by DAZN in the United States, as long as the money is right.
“Absolutely,” Arum said. “I mean, Jesus Christ, you’ve gotta be stupid. Look, I mean, DAZN fighters fight on ESPN when the economics dictate. Like with [Anthony] Crolla, who’s fighting [Vasiliy] Lomachenko. Clearly, Lomachenko’s the ‘A’ side and Crolla is fighting on our terms, based on getting a good purse. Now, we’ll be in the same position with Pulev [against] Joshua.”
Assuming Pulev and Joshua win the upcoming fights in which they’re favored, Arum anticipates Pulev challenging Joshua as early as September.
Pulev, who has lost only to Wladimir Klitschko, was supposed to box Joshua in October 2017. He suffered a shoulder injury and withdrew from their fight less than two weeks before it was scheduled to take place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
“If we put it on in September, this would be the last fight for Pulev prior to the fall fight with Joshua,” Arum said. “That is correct. It would be the next fight and we would certainly push that as the next fight, and hopefully it works out that it is the next fight [for Joshua]. But the point is we’re not going to go to war on these things. We’re going to be cooperative. It’s good for the sport. We’re not going to bust Eddie’s balls with purse bids and so forth. We’re gonna work a deal out, like gentlemen.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.