British Boxer of Nigeria Extraction Anthony Joshua has officially announced he will fight Kubrat Pulev on June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with a unification bout against Tyson Fury on the backburner for now. The IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion had been keen to unify the division against Fury, who saw off Deontay Wilder in emphatic fashion last week to claim the WBC belt. However, the loser of that fight had the option to trigger a rematch within 30 days, which Wilder has done, with Joshua’s camp going ahead with the Pulev fight instead.
The fight will be the first boxing match held at Spurs’ state-of-the-art new stadium, which holds 62,303 people and boasts a retractable pitch so the turf will not get damaged, but that figure can be increased for the fight.
Pulev also confirmed his involvement in the fight on his Facebook page on Monday, saying: ‘I am happy to have the opportunity to show the world how strong I really am.’ The two fighters were due to face off at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2017 but Pulev pulled out with an injury, with Joshua fighting – and beating – Carlos Takam instead.
Pulev is a controversial figure, with the Bulgarian’s boxing license briefly suspended after he forcibly kissed female reporter Jennifer Ravalo during an interview and he was instructed to complete a sexual harassment prevention class. Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, had held tentative talks with Fury’s camp about a unification fight but that will have to wait until the end of the year.
Wilder has no intention of accepting a step-aside offer and wants to push ahead with a trilogy fight, with that bout expected to take place on July 18 in Las Vegas, shortly before the Olympics. If Fury once again emerges victorious, and Joshua overcomes Pulev, then a Battle of Britain heavyweight unification fight would likely take place in either November or December of this year, with Wembley the preferred venue.