Top heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev is ready to make a splash in his U.S. debut.
Pulev (26-1, 13 KOs) will take on Bogdan Dinu (18-1, 14 KOs) in the 10-round main event Saturday evening at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California.
Pulev-Dinu and the featherweight clash between former world champions Jessie Magdaleno and Rico Ramos will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The entire undercard, including the returns of top 140-pound contender Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev and welterweight Chris van Heerden, will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
Pulev, who is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, is coming off a unanimous decision win over Hughie Fury. Dinu lost his last bout via fourth-round stoppage to Jarrell Miller and is looking to recharge his career.
Two days before they enter the ring, this is what Pulev and Dinu had to say.
“Dinu is a hard, tough fighter. We fought in 2007 at a world championship in his home country in Romania. We beat Dinu, but it wasn’t easy. It was a hard fight. He is a busy technical fighter who throws a lot of punches. He gets emotional inside the ring. He is a stand-up fighter, meaning he doesn’t really bend to his left and right. I have to deal with his high volume of punches coming in hard. I need to concentrate at all times in the ring, be focused and then knock him out. I want the knockout real bad. That is all I think about. Me getting my hand raised, looking down at him."
“After this, we want Oscar Rivas. We fought at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Rivas won that fight in a decision, and it still torments me. I want that fight bad and am asking Top Rank to do it. I saw what Rivas did to Jennings, but Rivas will pay the price for doing what he did to me at the Olympics."
"First, we must deal with — and get rid of — Dinu on Saturday night and move on.”
On his defeat to Jarrell Miller
"That defeat against Miller was more meaningful than any of my wins. I feel that I jumped in at a very high level and the experience was good for me. If I could box for 12 rounds the way I boxed the first three rounds against Miller, I can beat anyone. I am prepared to do that now."
On what a win would mean for his career
"A win means everything. Pulev is the mandatory challenger in the IBF, and with a win over him, I will be very close to getting my chance to fight for the heavyweight title."
"My camp has gone very well. I am 100 percent prepared, and it will show in my performance on March 23."