IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev 27-1 (14) has tabbed Andy Ruiz Jr to defeat Anthony Joshua for a second time when they meet in a rematch later this year.
Mexican-American Ruiz Jr 33-1 (22) shocked the world when he stopped Brit Joshua 22-1 (21) in seven rounds at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 1. Ruiz Jr had Joshua on the deck four times during the bout.
The win secured Ruiz Jr the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts.
Joshua’s promoter Matchroom Boxing is in the final stages of negotiating the rematch to take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7, but so far Ruiz Jr has baulked at the idea of travelling abroad to defend his unified heavyweight championship.
With the IBF mandatory title defence due, the New Jersey-based sanctioning body recently announced they would provide an exemption for Ruiz Jr to face Joshua again, meaning Pulev will have to wait until next year before receiving his coveted world title shot.
“I wasn’t all that surprised that the IBF gave the exception for the rematch, but we do want some of the conditions clarified so that we can be sure that the winner will fight me next,” Pulev said to Fightnews.
“I have been waiting for this to happen for over three years. I will remain focused and keep getting ready for the winner.”
The 38-year-old Bulgarian, who knocked out Bogdan Dinu in seven rounds in his US debut in March, sees the Ruiz Jr-Joshua rematch as an even contest but said he expects the belts to remain in the same hands.
“The rematch is a 50/50 fight, and I see Ruiz winning again. I’m currently in training camp in Las Vegas and feeling that great things are about to happen,” he said.
Pulev’s only professional loss was to world champion Wladimir Klitschko five years ago.