By Edward Chaykovsky
A fight between IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and top challenger Kubrat Pulev could happen either this year or in 2017, according to Pulev's promoter Kalle Sauerland.
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport had recently mentioned Pulev as a leading candidate to face Joshua in the fall. Other candidates include mandatory challenger Joseph Parker and former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne.
Joshua captured the world title in April with a two round knockout of Charles Martin and the retained his belt for the first time with a seventh round stoppage of Dominic Breazeale in June.
Pulev (23-1 KO12) holds a number two ranking under the IBF. Whether he gets a voluntary shot this year, or a mandatory shot next year, Sauerland expects the fight with Joshua to eventually happen.
"I think it's a fight that will happen, whether we agree now to a voluntary or not," Sauerland told Sky Sports. "Pulev is in the No 2 position after Parker, his mandatory.
"The next mandatory will likely be Pulev in 2017, so whether the fight happens now or next year, the fight will happen. I think it's a great fight. Obviously two big guys. Joshua has made a storming entrance to the professional ranks, but I think he is still learning on the job, which you can see from his last opponent.
"Pulev is a big step up and it's a good fight, it's a real 50-50 if you ask me. Pulev isn't a one-punch fighter, but he's knocked out bigger guys than Joshua. If you look at Dimitrenko and Ustinov for example, they are big, big guys, and he's stopped them. It's a real fight, a live fight. Let's see if they want to do it now, or whether they want to wait until next year."