Promoter Eddie Hearn believes 2020 will be the most important of Anthony Joshua’s career.
The WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion regained his belts with a comprehensive boxing lesson over conqueror Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December.
Next up for Joshua 23-1 (21) is a mandatory title defence against the dangerous Kubrat Pulev 28-1 (14) at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London on June 20.
“As we go into what I believe will be the biggest year of AJ’s career so far, all our attention turns to Pulev in an absolute must-win fight,” said Hearn to the BBC.
“Pulev is undefeated in six years and his team, and especially Bob Arum, really fancy this. I think you are going to see something special from AJ – a destructive performance on the road to undisputed.”
Steve Bunce from 5 Live says Bulgarian Pulev, 38, will fancy his chances after seeing Ruiz physically rough up Joshua before knocking him out in seven rounds at New York’s Madison Square Garden last June.
“What needs to be added is Pulev will go for it,” said Bunce.
“He has to because Andy Ruiz Jr went for it and he beat Joshua. There will always be a question now over Joshua. Pulev will be in the ‘Joshua’s got nothing’ camp.
“Pulev will be getting in the ring with the people around him whispering in his ear about how easy it is going to be to beat that guy.”
Pulev was scheduled to face Joshua in 2017 but was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury in training camp. He has reeled off eight straight wins since his lone loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
“Pulev hurt Klitschko in the first round and hurt him with the jab,” said 5 Live Boxing’s Mike Costello.
“He did have a go. He’s beaten Hughie Fury and Derek Chisora which is a sign he belongs close to the elite. For me, he is just below that elite rung.
“Joshua can re-establish himself and in the end, he just has to win. Then we get on that bandwagon for a fight with Fury later in the year. I am thinking the same December weekend as when Joshua fought Ruiz and, again, in Saudi Arabia.”
Bunce added: “It is the well that never runs dry. Rematches, grudge fights, overdue fights, outdoor stadiums, indoor stadiums, sell-outs, Las Vegas, Tottenham, the world. That’s the heavyweight scene right now.”
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