Anthony Joshua’s crucial world title clash against Kubrat Pulev has been rescheduled as Britain’s heavyweight star returns in a spectacular ending to the boxing year at The O2 on December 12.
Joshua was due to defend his WBA ‘super’ IBF and WBO belts against IBF mandatory challenger Pulev in June, but will now receive his hotly anticipated first fight on UK soil in over two years.
The two-time world king regained his titles from Andy Ruiz Jr in a rematch victory in Saudi Arabia last December, and cannot afford another shock setback against the Bulgarian, with negotiations ongoing for an undisputed world title fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.
“December 12 is the date and once again the heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK,” said Joshua.
“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.”
An injury forced Pulev out of a scheduled fight against Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017, but he is planning a stunning win in his second world title shot following a sole defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev.
“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.”