‘Long time coming’: Anthony Joshua world heavyweight defense opponent confirmed

‘Long time coming’: Anthony Joshua world heavyweight defense opponent confirmed
Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF & IBO world heavyweight title belts against Bulgarian mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in Cardiff, Wales, on October 28.

The event, Joshua’s fifth-straight world heavyweight title fight, will be staged at the Welsh capital’s 80,000 Principality Stadium, where last season’s UEFA Champions League final was held.

“Greeting fight fans, I hope you’re all well,” the 27-year-old said in a video. “October 28th I’ll be defending my IBF, WBA. IBO heavyweight championship of the world against the fighter named Kubrat Pulev. He’s game, he’s ready and it’s a long time coming.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring. I just want to say thanks for your support over the years and you know me – I can’t wait to get back in the ring and perform, and I do it for you. Thank you.”

The Briton will be looking for a 20th straight KO win from his 20 fights so far since turning professional following winning gold at his home London 2012 Olympics.

Both Joshua and Pulev have a common foe in Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua defeated the Ukrainian legend at Wembley in April, coming off the canvas to claim the WBA strap with an 11th-round stoppage win.

Pulev shipped a fifth-round TKO against Klitschko in 2014, but it remains the only blemish in his 26 fight career and the 36-year-old is the current European champion, having beaten Joshua’s countryman Dereck Chisora last year.

“October 28 can’t come soon enough, I have been eager to get back in the ring since Wembley and now we are confirmed and ready,” said Joshua in a statement issued by his promotional company Matchroom Sport.

“I’ll be locked away focusing on fight number 20 for the next eight weeks. I am excited to experience the atmosphere in a sold out Principality Stadium and aim to give the fans a spectacular night.”

“Anthony is a formidable opponent. I have short time to prepare, but I will be perfectly ready when I enter the ring,” Pulev posted on social media.

“We will not hug and hold, we will not run; we will stand and fight. His style fits mine perfectly and in boxing, styles make fights. My preparation will be very intense, and I will be perfectly ready when I enter the ring so that he will have no chance to beat me,” he said.

“I’m delighted that we will be in Cardiff at the magnificent Principality Stadium for the next step of the AJ journey,” said Joshua’s promoter and Matchroom Sport managing director Eddie Hearn.

“The card will be stacked with World championship action, domestic title fights and the very best young stars in the game. Get ready for the next episode from the biggest star in World boxing,” he added.