With Kubrat Pulev looking set to be the next opponent for Anthony Joshua in May or June, we profile the Bulgarian’s career and look at how he has got to this point.

Who is Kubrat Pulev?

Kubrat Pulev is a Bulgarian heavyweight with a record of 29 fights, 28 wins, 14 KOs and one loss, and has bullied his way into the title challenger fold. Nicknamed ‘The Cobra’, Pulev, who stands at 6’ 4” with a reach of 79.5”, made his professional boxing debut in 2009, beating Florian Benche by technical knockout. The orthodox stance and brutish nature of Pulev makes him a force to be reckoned with inside the ring.

The Cobra started attracting attention when he represented Bulgaria at both heavyweight and super-heavyweight level in various world and European championships. The Bulgarian won two golds, one silver and two bronze medals during this time before becoming professional at the age of 28.

Pulev picked up his first belt when defeating Travis Walker in 2011 for the vacant International Boxing Federation International Heavy Title. Pulev won by unanimous decision and continued to successfully defend the title up until 2014, while he also won the vacant European Boxing Union Heavy Title in that time.

Pulev’s biggest fight to date took place in 2014 when he faced Wladimir Klitschko. As the IBF’s mandatory challenger, Pulev flew to Germany, where most of his fights have taken place, to fight against the world champion. However, it wasn’t to be for the Bulgarian as he was knocked down three times before being knocked out in the fifth round.

Is Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev set to happen?

Pulev was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Joshua in October 2017, but Pulev was forced to withdraw through injury. Carlos Takam took the Bulgarian’s place and was ultimately defeated by Joshua.

Pulev is owed another title opportunity against Joshua as he is the IBF’s mandatory challenger. He received this mandatory title shot in 2018 when he beat Hughie Fury in the final eliminator and has since fought twice, beating both Rydell Booker and Bogdan Dinu, taking his winning streak to eight in a row.

There has been some dispute between the IBF and the WBO in terms of which mandatory challenger Joshua would face – the WBO have Oleksandr Usyk lined up for Joshua, while the IBF have Pulev.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has been in talks with both sides but it’s looking as if AJ vs Pulev will take place first – with Usyk likely to get his shot later in the year – with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the Emirates Stadium among the possible list of venues. The AJ vs Pulev date looks set to be May or June.

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