IBF mandatory heavyweight contender Kubrat ‘The Cobra’ Pulev 28-1 (14) kept his world title hopes alive with a 10-round unanimous decision win over Rydell Booker 26-3 (13) at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California on Saturday night.
The 38-year-old Bulgarian clearly outboxed the overweight Detroit veteran but looked less than spectacular, neglecting the body and never pressing for the stoppage.
Judges Carla Caiz and Fernando Villarreal both scored the bout for Pulev 98-92, while judge Steve Morrow had it slighter wider at 99-91.
The victory was Pulev’s eighth straight since his fifth-round KO loss to then-unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014.
Pulev is in line to face the winner of the rematch between IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua due to take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7.
“It’s been eight months from my last fight. I think my opponent was not bad. I respect him. It was a very nice fight,” Pulev said.
“I controlled the whole fight, and I was the much better boxer. I showed everyone I’m at the world level, and I must fight the winner of Joshua and Ruiz!”
Ruiz Jr shocked the world back in June when he dropped Joshua four times en route to a seventh-round stoppage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to claim the unified heavyweight championship of the world.
The winner of Ruiz Jr-Joshua II will likely have to choose whether to abdicate either the IBF or the WBO belt with mandatories for both due early in the new year or face the prospect of paying step aside money to one of the mandatory challengers.
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in the WBO mandatory contender.
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