Will Pulev upset Joshua’s applecart at Hotspur bout?


Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Ring giant and British world champion Anthony Joshua’s next fight will take place at English professional football club Tottenham Hotspur’s new 62,000-capacity stadium (in north London) in June this year.

The date set is June 20 and Joshua will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Organization (IBO) heavyweight boxing titles against ‘The Cobra’ Kubrat Pulev.

Anthony Joshua is an English professional boxer who is a two-time unified heavyweight champion, having held the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019 and previously between 2016 and June 2019.

Kubrat Pulev is a Bulgarian professional boxer. He held the European heavyweight title twice between 2012 and 2016, and has challenged once for the unified world heavyweight title in 2014.

The bout will mark Joshua’s first fight since defeating Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December last year, and his first in the UK since defeating Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in September 2018. Joshua had lost to Ruiz at New York’s Madison Square Garden six months before the Saudi Arabia rematch.

Bulgaria’s Pulev has a very impressive ring record having won 28 of his 29 fights and is the IBF’s mandatory challenger. The boxing bout between the two ring giants will mark the first major boxing match to be held at the Spurs’ new stadium – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – which opened its gates in April 2019.

Joshua was initially due to take on Pulev at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in UK in October 2017 but the latter withdrew after suffering a shoulder injury in sparring, with Cameroonian-French professional boxer Carlos Takam stepping in to replace him at 12 days’ notice.

Stated Joshua, “I’m back in my home city after some time away. A spectacular stadium has been built in North London and I’m honored to bring the boxing community from all over the world to witness us make history with the stadium’s first heavyweight world title fight. The belts go back up in the air and nothing will stop me from being victorious.”

Joshua also said that he will put his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championship belts on the line in a homecoming fight against Pulev.

Stated a confident Pulev, “I am happy to have the opportunity to show the world how strong I really am.”

English sports promoter Eddie Hearn added, “I’m so excited to see Anthony Joshua return to the capital, 70,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is going to be very special. 2019 was a crazy year that had everything – the only thing missing was a UK fight and as we go into what I believe will be the biggest year of ‘AJ’s’ career so far, all our attention turns to Kubrat Pulev in an absolute must-win fight. Pulev is undefeated in six years and his team and especially Bob Arum really fancy this. I think you are going to see something special from AJ on June 20 – a destructive performance on the road to undisputed.”

Hearn revealed in January that discussions have been held for a future Joshua fight to be held at Kinshasa’s Stade Tata Raphaël – a multipurpose stadium in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo – which is also the site for the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

He further said that talks were also underway for an all-British unification fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury (the British professional boxer who is a two-time heavyweight world champion).

Pulev, a former European heavyweight champion, has bit the dust just once in 29 bouts, a fifth-round knockout by Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.

He beat Britain’s Hughie Fury on points in an IBF final eliminator in Bulgaria in October 2018, his first fight since pulling out of his original clash with Joshua.

His last bout was another unanimous point’s victory against American Rydell Booker, in November last year.

Will ‘The Cobra’ Pulev bare fangs?

Going by Pulev’s present form, it is being speculated that he will “knock out Joshua”.

Joshua losing to Ruiz at Madison Square Garden might be the reason for analysts commenting that Pulev is all set to upset Joshua’s applecart.

Analysts also say that though Joshua bounced back to form by defeating Ruiz in the Saudia Arabia match, but he seems to flounder when in a pressure situation. Will Pulev’s team pull out all the stops to ensure he emerges as the numero uno and fire on all cylinders?

Pulev could shatter the dreams of British boxing fans who have been promised a Fury-Joshua bout for all the belts.

English boxing manager and promoter Frank Warren wants Fury to fight Joshua next in a world title unification bout.

Spurs’ stadium

Apart from serving as the home of the Spurs’, the futuristic venue also plays host to National Football League (NFL) games and is scheduled to hold the Premiership Rugby Union match between Saracens and Harlequins. In November, the arena will host the third and final Test of rugby league’s Ashes series.

Saracens Football Club is an English professional rugby union football club based in London. The Harlequin Football Club is an English rugby union team that plays in the top level of English rugby, the English Premiership.

The stadium is also set to stage its first concerts this summer, with Guns N’ Roses to perform two nights at the venue on May 29-30. Capital’s Summertime Ball will follow on June 6.

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