Kubrat Pulev isn’t leaving anything to chance this time around.
The veteran heavyweight contender from Sofia, Bulgaria will enter his second career title fight under the guidance of top-shelf trainer Joe Goossen. The two will join forces for Pulev’s challenge of the slew of heavyweight titles in possession of England’s Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21KOs), with their fight taking place June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Tottenham section of north London, England.
“I’ll be in the ring with Kubrat Pulev. I’m his new trainer,” Goossen revealed during his role as color commentator on Saturday’s edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox, live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “I’m gonna take off for Bulgaria next week and then to London for the press conference later this month.”
Pulev (28-1, 14KOs) has been the mandatory challenger in waiting ever since a points win over Hughie Fury in their October 2018 title eliminator.
Efforts to bide his time in 2019 nearly proved more trouble than it’s worth, suffering a cut in an eventual stoppage win over Bogdan Dinu in an ESPN fight last March which became better known for its aftermath. Pulev lip-locked with a credentialed female media member, who filed a sexual discrimination case which ultimately earned the heavyweight a temporary suspension with the California State Athletic Commission.
The matter was since resolved, at least in the eyes of the California commission who lifted Pulev’s suspension last summer and overseeing his most recent win, a 10-round decision over Rydell Booker last November.
Over that span, Pulev and the rest of the boxing world watched Joshua suffer his first career loss, a 7th round knockout at the hands of Andy Ruiz last June. Joshua gained revenge in their rematch, claiming a points win to regain his belts last December in Saudi Arabia.
Pulev was an interested observer in the bout, having previously attempted to block the fight and have his mandatory contender status enforced. A compromise was reached with the International Boxing Federation (IBF), who allowed Joshua-Ruiz II on the condition that the winner fight Pulev next.
It proved worth the wait, at least for Top Rank, who serves as Pulev’s co-promoter and is now in position to obtain all of the heavyweight hardware. The Las Vegas-based company also has under its banner England’s Tyson Fury, who claimed the lineal championship and World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title following a 7th round knockout of Deontay Wilder in their rematch last month in Las Vegas.
The sense is that the services of no-nonsense Goossen will only strengthen his chances of getting it right the second time around on the title stage.
“Joe is an excellent trainer, and Kubrat will be 100 percent ready to shock the world on June 20,” Hall of Fame promoter and Top Rank founder Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com.
The first attempt at becoming heavyweight champion resulted in Pulev’s lone career defeat, suffering a 5th round stoppage at the hands of then-World champ Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014. Eight straight wins have followed, as he now heads to England for the first time in his career, and with a new voice in his corner.
“I spoke to his (co-)promoter Ivaylo Gotvez and it’s a done deal,” confirmed Goossen. “I can’t wait. He’s a great fighter, he’s only lost once and that was to Klitschko.”
Goossen adds Pulev to an intimate but solid stable which also includes former 140-pound titlist Sergey Lipinets and former three-time heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox