“AJ” Returns To Familiar Territory For Upcoming Mandatory Title Defense
Matchroom Boxing has made the official announcement that Unified World Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) will defend the IBF, WBO, and WBA Heavyweight titles against IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs on December 12th at the O2 Arena in London.
The bout will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service.
A SECOND HOME
This will be Joshua’s first time back in the ring since regaining the belts in a rematch win over Andy Ruiz on December 7, 2019. For the champ, fighting at the O2 is a return to very familiar territory.
“December 12 is the date and once again the Heavyweight belts go up in the air. It is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK.
“The O2 is the original lion’s den. I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans, something huge is missing. I am really hoping that safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.
“I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
This will be Pulev’s second world title opportunity. Six years ago he lost by 5th round KO to then-unified champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Originally set to face Joshua in October 2017, he was forced to withdraw due to injury. Finally getting the chance to fight “AJ”, the 39-year-old mandatory says there is more motivation than usual.
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the Heavyweight Titles is a great accomplishment.
“This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”
HIGH-LEVEL MOTIVATION FOR BOTH MEN
So much is on the line for both fighters. Pulev is looking to finally achieve his dream of becoming a world champion. Given his age, this is more than likely his last world title shot.
For Joshua, the incentive is even greater. Earlier this year, he agreed to a two-fight deal to face WBC champion, Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), in 2021 according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
With so much at stake, he cannot afford to lose.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.