Kubrat Pulev has issued an apology for a controversial comment made about Anthony Joshua after the announcement of their big showdown set for Saturday December 12.
The 39-year-old Bulgarian (28-1) will challenge for Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles at London’s O2 Arena. The fight will be a Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view and will be showed by DAZN in the United States.
After the bout was finally announced following months of delays due to COVID-19, Pulev said at a press conference: “I’d say he has a very powerful punch undeniably … [and] his tan is better than mine.”
A media storm ensued after that comment and days later the IBF mandatory challenger apologised but said his words had been “taken out of context”.
In a statement on his official website, Pulev said: “I would never, under any circumstances, allow myself to show disrespect to another human being on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.
“If somebody has been offended by my words, I hope they would try to understand exactly what I meant by them and if they cannot understand me, then accept my sincere apology.”
Pulev’s long wait is over
Pulev had originally been scheduled to face AJ at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20. But that date was scuppered by the lockdown caused by the ongoing global pandemic.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn remains hopeful that some spectators will be allowed into the O2 for the December 12 showdown. But he has consistently stated it will go ahead even if it must be behind closed doors.
Pulev will start an 11/2 underdog with the UK bookmakers, while Joshua is a heavy 1/10 favourite. Should AJ prevail he’ll likely set up a massive showdown with fellow Brit Tyson Fury next summer.
Joshua vs Pulev will be the first fight for the Briton in just over one year. He last appeared in that rematch win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December 2019. It also completes a stacked heavyweight schedule in the final quarter of 2020.
Pulev meanwhile is having his second challenge for a world heavyweight title. He was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko inside five rounds back in 2014.