Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says he’s certain that the winner of this Saturday’s fight between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury won’t be taking on IBF/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua next.
The reason for that is Arum is confident that IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev, who he promotes as part of his Top Rank stable, will defeat Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) this June when they face each other.
Obviously that’s probably a pipedream on Arum’s part in believing the 38-year-old Pulev, who is not much of a puncher and lacks hand speed, will somehow defeat the younger, bigger and stronger Joshua. As such, whatever assurances Arum gives the fans that the Wilder-Fury 2 winner WON’T be fighting Joshua next are essentially meaningless.
The reality is Pulev, 6’4 1/2″, has almost no chance of beating Joshua, and we’re likely to see the Wilder vs. Fury 2 winner taking on the IBF/WBA/WBO champion if the money is right.
Arum says Joshua won’t fight Wilder vs. Fury 2 winner
“The chances are nil because Anthony Joshua by the end of June will no longer be the heavyweight champ,” said Arum to The Big Lead when asked if the Wilder vs. Fury 2 winner will face Joshua next. “Anthony Joshua showed his vulnerability in the Andy Ruiz fight. I don’t care what anyone thought in the second fight. Andy Ruiz wasn’t prepared.
“Andy Ruiz is a good heavyweight, but not an elite heavyweight, and the fact that he knocked out Joshua leads me to believe that Joshua is suspect. And Kubrat Pulev, the Bulgarian kid, is a much better boxer, and much stronger than Andy Ruiz.
“I look for him, the mandatory fight will happen in June,” said Arum. “No you won’t, not after Pulev knocks out Joshua,” said Arum when asked whether Fury and Joshua will fight. “You don’t want to see that fight, and if you do, there won’t be that many people that will. And I look for him not only to beat Joshua but to knock Joshua out,” said Arum.
Joshua is a flawed heavyweight, as Arum points out, but Pulev is arguably far, far worse off. He’s slower, smaller, older and weaker than Joshua. Arum would have some believers in his theory if Pulev had actually beaten someone good in the last six years since losing to Wladimir Klitschko by a 5th round knockout in November 2014. All of Pulev’s wins since that loss have come against bottom level opposition or fighters that were ranked high but had little talent.
Pulev will be a huge underdog against Joshua
Nothing on Pulev’s resume since 2014 suggests that he will do anything against Joshua other than lose by an early knockout. At best, Pulev might go the full 12 rounds if Joshua fights as timidly as he did in his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. last December. Joshua looked unwilling to mix it up with Ruiz Jr. at any instant in the fight. He was throwing jabs all night and dashing away when Ruiz Jr. would come at him.
Pulev’s wins since his loss to Wladimir have come against these fighters:
- Dereck Chisora
- Hughie Fury
- Kevin Johnson
- Maurice Harris
- George Arias
- Samuel Peter
- Rydell Booker
- Bogdan Dinu
Those guys are considered soft opposition. Even Chisora is a fringe level fighter at best, and not one of the top dogs. Peter, Harris, and Johnson were major players many years ago, but they were well past their primes when Pulev fought them. I’m not sure that Pulev would have been the 2004 version of Sam Peter, but he fought him at the right time.
Arum excited about ESPN+ increasing subscribers
“ESPN+, in the short period of time we’ve been with them, they’re approaching 8 million subscribers,” said Arum. “That’s phenomenal. We’ve had phenomenal success. Not all of it is attributable to boxing, but Fury has helped, but a lot of it is from UFC has helped bring subscribers in. We expect by the end of June, we’ll have between 10 and 12 million subscribers on ESPN+.