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'Toxic masculinity championship of the world': Controversial Pulev expected to face Tyson Fury next

'Toxic masculinity championship of the world': Controversial Pulev expected to face Tyson Fury next
Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev, who made headlines earlier this year for kissing a female reporter after a victory, has emerged as the leading contender to be Tyson Fury's next opponent.

Fury is expected to fight once more between September and November of this year before pursuing a hotly-anticipated rematch with WBC champion Deontay Wilder which, following Anthony Joshua's defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr., is now the undisputed biggest fight in heavyweight boxing. 

In order to further 'set the table' ahead of Fury v Wilder II, the Englishman's U.S. promoters Top Rank want him to have one further bout to further establish him among the American boxing audience and, perhaps, to give him an opportunity to get some more rounds in his system after his fight with Germany's Tom Schwarz last weekend lasted less than six minutes in total. 

Also on rt.com 'That's not true. This woman is not my type': Boxer Pulev denies grabbing reporter's buttocks

Step forward Kubrat Pulev, who has been strongly linked by DAZN's Chris Mannix to be the next man to face Fury.

The 38-year-old has been beaten just once in his career - by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 - and recently defeated Fury's brother Hughie by unanimous decision - something which could potentially produce a revenge storyline ahead of the contest.

The Bulgarian heavyweight is infamous for another reason, however. Following a knockout win against Bogdan Dinu in March, Pulev grabbed a female interviewer and planted a kiss square on her lips - apparently as a means to demonstrate his happiness at the win.

The internet didn't take too kindly to his act of 'toxic masculinity', as some described it, and he was suspended by California Athletic Commission following the incident.

Pulev is currently the top contender for the IBF belt currently held by Ruiz Jr. following his stunning knockout victory against Joshua.

If the IBF mandate the defense of their title, Ruiz Jr. will almost certainly vacate because of the agreement for rematch with Joshua - meaning that any bout between Pulev and Fury may well be for the IBF title.

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Some boxing fans haven't exactly lapped up this potential bout, however. Pulev's reputation took a hit as a result of his run-in with the reporter in March, while Fury has regularly landed in hot water over the years owing to controversial remarks in which he said that homosexuality will lead to the apocalypse.

With Wilder set to rematch Luiz Ortiz and Fury linked to Pulev, it seems certain that a win for each of the top-ranked heavyweights will likely mean they face each other early next year in what will be one of the most anticipated rematches in years.

But both fighters will likely be cognisant of the surprise defeat Joshua suffered against Ruiz in what was supposed to be a standard title defense and any implications this may have on the future matchmaking in the division.

Also on rt.com Bulgarian boxer Pulev to attend sexual harassment course after forcibly kissing reporter

With the prospect of Joshua v Fury/Wilder now smoldering on the ash heap, heavyweight boxing stands just one upset knockout away from losing another of its biggest fights.

One suspects that the collective minds of Top Rank, the Fury and Wilder camps and your average boxing fan will be hoping that everything plays out as it should.

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