Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London on Saturday December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in the USA.
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) recaptured his belts and position as the unified heavyweight world champion with a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia in December.
December 12 will be ‘AJ’s’ first fight on UK soil in over two years, since he defended his crowns with a seventh round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, and the former Finchley ABC man will be aiming to deal with Pulev in style to set up an undisputed showdown against WBC champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.
Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF’s no.1-ranked heavyweight mandatory challenger, gets his second shot at world honours after his defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – the only loss of his 29-fight professional career. He has won six fights in a row since then, including victories over Derek Chisora and an IBF eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018.
“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.”
“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.”
“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified world heavyweight championship is very special,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s resume is unrivalled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year.
“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become world champion on Dec 12 but AJ constantly evolves and improves and I expect a dominant performance and a spectacular KO to close out 2020.”