Gotzev: Pulev fancies Whyte clash, Covid affected prep for Joshua

Recent IBF heavyweight title challenger Kubrat Pulev would like to fight rival contender Dillian Whyte later this year, according to his co-promoter Ivaylo Gotzev.

Veteran Pulev produced a determined display before WBA Super, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s greater firepower downed him for the full count in the ninth round at the SSE Arena, Wembley, last month. 

The Bulgarian plans to return in June before targeting a clash with another British fighter in Whyte later in 2021, having previously defeated Hughie Fury and Dereck Chisora on the cards.

“Let’s not forget that right now we still stand in a winning column with Kubrat at 2-1 against top British heavyweights,” Gotzev told Sky Sports. “I’m referring to Chisora and Hughie Fury, so let’s keep the score going.

“Certainly one fight of great interest that I think style-wise and personalities would make for a great clash is Kubrat Pulev versus Dillian Whyte, once he deals with [Alexander] Povetkin [in their rematch].

“Dillian Whyte has been very loud in the past talking about Kubrat and Kubrat feels like he is the perfect mouth he wants to shut. That’s a great heavyweight scrap for the future.”

Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) was apparently affected by a bout of Covid-19 before the Joshua fight and pines for a highly unlikely rematch. According to Gotzev, Pulev chose to go through with his title challenge with his strength levels diminished and without sufficient sparring.

“It was too much to lose, not fighting for all those belts. He really believed in himself. He had a shot at cracking through AJ and he tried,” claimed Gotzev.

“Within a month prior to the fight, he had Covid. He had to alter his training and, quite honestly, I thought we were going home. Me to the US, him to Bulgaria. He met with doctors and he made a decision. He is standing by his decision. He’s a warrior.

“Look, we’ve always given AJ credit and I’m giving him credit now, saying he’s a great athletic specimen. He’s fit, he’s physically strong, he can punch, but the weaknesses are obvious. There were glimpses of that when AJ was getting frustrated every time that Kubrat got close and punched him. Kubrat just didn’t have enough.

“It does take your strength. Kubrat, his X-rays showed he went through a pneumonia stage, but he fought it off and he was there for the fight.”