By Jake Donovan
Kubrat Pulev is not quite free and clear to resume his boxing career.
The heavyweight contender from Bulgaria saw his suspension extended by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) during the agency's monthly agenda hearing Tuesday in Los Angeles, Calif. The commission members voted unanimously in favor of honoring the administrative suspension already in place for what was deemed improper conduct following his last fight this past March.
An initial ruling of a six-month suspension—from time served—was essentially tabled, as the matter will be further reviewed during the commission's next hearing, which is presently scheduled for July 22. Because the CSAC falls within the realm of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC), the current suspension in place prevents Pulev from fighting anywhere in North America until reinstatement of his boxing license.
Upon appearing in front of the commission at the July 22 meeting, Pulev will be required to have attended and completed sexual harassment training prior to applying for reinstatement of his boxing license. Failure to do so will result in his being suspended for 12 months and fined an additional $2,500.
In addition to mandated sexual harassment training and completion of such course, Pulev will also have to apply with the CSAC first before seeking a license with any other commission.
Pulev made the headlines both in and out of the ring on March 23. A post-fight interview conducted after his ESPN-headlined 7th round knockout of Bogdan Dinu ended with the heavyweight kissing online reporter Jenny Ravalo (also known as “Jenny SuShe”) on the lips, a matter which the reporter insisted came without her consent.
“My actions were wrong,” Pulev (27-1, 14KOs) admitted during Tuesday's hearing, accompanied by his immediate team absent Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who was overseas in Belfast to formally announce the next fight for Top Rank featherweight Michael Conlan. “I do realize that I made a mistake. Not just because it was bad to do this on camera, but it set a bad example for how an athlete should conduct himself in public.”
The incident prompted the CSAC to issue an administrative suspension for violation of California Code of Regulations, title 4, section 390 issued on March 26, 2019. Ravalo also retained the services of high-powered attorney Gloria Allred, with the two present at Tuesday's meeting in hopes of discouraging the commission from permitting Pulev to be removed from the suspension list.
Further muddying the waters was video footage released by a member of Pulev's team on March 30—showing Ravalo partying with said team in the early hours of March 24 andcalling into question both her professionalism and her true intentions behind her filing a lawsuit against the boxer in addition to seeking full revocation of his boxing license.
The tactics helped distract the initial issue in question.
“All he's done since then is slut-shame me,” Ravalo testified during Tuesday's hearing. “He's said so much stuff. I've kept quiet until today. But it's lies, it's all lies.
“All I wanted was an apology which I did not get until today.”
The heavyweight contender insisted there was a reason for such delay.
“I have not seen her until today, which is why I waited until now to apologize,” Pulev insisted. “I wanted to apologize to her in person.”
Still, Pulev was repeatedly dressed down by the CSAC panel, who highlighted his (team) releasing the video while he was already placed on administrative suspension by the commission. Such actions were viewed as a pattern of his lack of professionalism from fight night in addition through his handling of the matter in the following days and even down to his rewatching the video when played during the hearing.
Interestingly, it comes it line with his recollection of Ravalo first approaching him for an interview prior to the March 23 fight.
"I've never been approached for an interview by a journalist with a phone on a selfie stick," pointed out Pulev, as both of the videos conducted–prior to the pre-fight weigh-in and then in the wake of his aforementioned win—were filmed with Ravalo positioning her cell phone from a "selfie" angle so that she was visible with Pulev on camera during the interview. "But I am friendly with everyone, journalists and those who want to be journalists."
On this occasion he was too friendly. As much was pointed out by the commission, whom referred back to his 'friends' comment and asked if he felt
Pulev overcame a deep cut to drop and stop Dinu in the 7th round of an entertaining ESPN main event. The win was his seventh straight following his lone career loss, a 5th round knockout of then-World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitscho in Nov. 2014, his lone career title fight to date.
It also kept him in line for a mandatory title shot at unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua. However, the aforementioned suspension kept him off of a short list of candidates to face the undefeated Brit in place of Jarrell Miller who was removed from their scheduled June 1 clash in New York City after testing positive for banned substances.
The assignment ultimately went to California's Andy Ruiz.
Whether Pulev will be first in line for a shot at the winner will largely depend on his ability to prove reformation in the eyes of the commission who delivered a mighty blow on Tuesday.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox