Will Kubrat Pulev Retire? Should He?

Kubrat Pulev waited so long for his shot at heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua, the fight first set to happen back in 2017. Now, at age 39 (some suggest the Bulgarian is in fact a fair bit older than that) it’s pretty tough to see where Pulev goes following his poleaxing at the hands of AJ. Pulev has only lost two pro fights – one to Wladimir Klitschko in a previous world title challenge, and one to Joshua – and two defeats do not end a career. Still, Pulev is almost 40 (or a little older) and it will take him a lot of work to get back into mandatory position unless he can bag himself a big fight with a current NO-1 contender and defeat them. That seems unlikely to happen, with Pulev instead likely to have to go back to the drawing board and build up a string of wins to get himself back into contention.

But at age 40 (or older!), will Pulev have the desire to go through all the necessary training camps as he tries to gain momentum all over again? Pulev was tough on Saturday night, and with just 30 pro fights on his body he is still quite fresh. But the KO he suffered against Joshua was a heavy one, one that might have taken a good deal out of him and his punch resistance. At 28-2(14), Pulev has a good record and he is quite a big name. Sure, there would be fights out there for him if he did carry on, but time is not on Pulev’s side. Maybe Pulev is financially sound and, after coming up short in two world title shots, these six years apart, he will choose to move on and do something else with his life. It was a long wait for the Joshua fight, and it would be understandable if Pulev will not wish to stay in the sport for the amount of time it could/would take for him to get a third crack at the world title.

Pulev would perhaps be able to get fights with young contenders as they try and move into title contention themselves, but will Pulev really want that? It is of course far too early for any decisions to be made, but it wouldn’t be a shock if Pulev did decide to call it a day, would it?. Can you honestly see him becoming world heavyweight champion? For Pulev, it could be that anything less than that would not be enough. A realist, Pulev must have to admit to himself that his chances of reaching the top at age 40 (or older) are not all that realistic. “The Cobra” had a good career, one he can hold his head up high about when looking back upon, but if he does carry on, chances are it would all be downhill from here on. Throughout heavyweight boxing history, only Jersey Joe Walcott and George Foreman were able to come back from defeat at world title level when at an advanced age and rule (Walcott being 37 when, after FOUR failed attempts, he finally managed to become heavyweight champ, Foreman being 45 years of age when he regained the title at his second attempt.)

But is Pulev in the same category as those two all-time greats?