Kubrat Pulev has refused to step aside and allow Anthony Joshua to take part in a heavyweight title unification fight against Tyson Fury. Exploratory talks over a multi-million-pound showdown between the pair were initiated earlier this month.
According to ESPN, Fury’s management – MTK Global – broached Team Joshua with the idea of a lucrative Middle East showdown in December.
Saudi Arabia is said to be the frontrunner to land the bout, although it’s been reported the contest could take place elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula.
In order for the long-awaited Battle of Britain to come to fruition this year, both Joshua and Fury would need to get out of their contractual obligations to face Pulev and Deontay Wilder.
It’s claimed both men will be able to do just that as they’ll receive the biggest purses of their respective careers.
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I see how people are afraid of me and are trying to face someone else before me.
The prospect of accepting a pay-off to allow Joshua to the opportunity to become undisputed champion isn’t something Pulev is willing to entertain, especially after allowing ‘AJ’ a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr late last year.
“I wouldn’t accept it,” the Bulgarian defiantly said when pressed about the step-aside offer.
“I did it once when I didn’t have to do it for him to have his second match against Ruiz Jr.
“Everything was against IBF’s rules, but I compromised.”
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Pulev’s crack at the unified heavyweight title is tentatively scheduled to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on July 25.
His long-awaited meeting with Joshua, whom he was first scheduled to meet in October 2017, was originally slated to take place on June 20 but was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Team Joshua’s decision to entertain the prospect of a fight with Fury has irked ‘The Cobra’, who firmly believes ‘AJ’ is afraid to face him.
He said: “I see how people are afraid of me and are trying to face someone else before me. That’s not how a real world champion should act.
“Even Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are coming back to the game to show that they are real warriors, not like him.
“A year has passed, and they always have a reason to postpone, not to fight against me.”
For Pulev, the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title, the situation is crystal clear.
“There are two options,” he said. “You either fight or vacate the title.”
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