Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |


Q&A: Kubrat Pulev

Fighters Network
Heavyweight Kubrat Pulev (L) on his way to a fourth-round TKO of Joey Abell on Dec. 14, 2013. Photo by Boris Streubel - Bongarts/Getty Images.

Heavyweight Kubrat Pulev (L) on his way to a fourth-round TKO of Joey Abell on Dec. 14, 2013. Photo by Boris Streubel – Bongarts/Getty Images.

When Kubrat Pulev steps into the ring in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday night he’ll be hoping to derail one of the most successful title runs in heavyweight history.

And though Wladimir Klitschko has received criticism for some of his opponents, there can be no doubt that in facing his IBF mandatory challenger that he’s facing the toughest opponent available in the division.

Pulev, like Klitschko, was a successful amateur. The 33-year-old Bulgarian turned professional in September 2009 after appearing at the world championships a couple of months earlier. Pulev’s best amateur results were winning bronze at the 2005 world championships and gold at the 2008 European championships.

Since embarking on his pro career Pulev has won all his bouts to date, going 20-0, 11 knockouts.

Though not as experienced as Klitschko, Pulev believes it’s simply a matter of his time. “I believe that I am in the right place at the right time to end the reign of Klitschko,” Pulev told RingTV.com.

No boxer from Bulgaria has ever won a professional world title, and so victory for Pulev would be huge. He likens a win for himself like his nation winning soccer’s World Cup.

This would be like Bulgaria winning the FIFA World Cup,” said Pulev. “The whole country would go nuts. I want not just to win the title for myself but for the people in Bulgaria.

“Me becoming the heavyweight world champion would most probably help to kick-start the economy.”

Here’s what Pulev had to say from his training base a couple of weeks ago about a variety of subjects:

Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on facing Klitschko?

Kubrat Pulev – I will work harder, spar with more intensity and keep improving on different strategies until I step into the ring with Wladimir. The bottom line is that I will do everything possible to get my hand raised after the fight.

AW – You were originally set to meet Klitschko on Sept. 6 but the fight was moved to Nov. 15. What did that mean to you?

KP – At first it was a big letdown to me as I had a great training camp including preparations at high-altitude in Bulgaria. So firstly I thought that I’d wasted 10 weeks. But then I saw the benefits: I could go on preparing and come into even better shape while Klitschko was sidelined for a few weeks. So I saw and still see it as an advantage. And believe me: I am even better prepared now than I was back in late August.

AW – What does it mean first to be fighting for the heavyweight title and also the recognized number one in the division?

KP – It means that I will be the best heavyweight in the world afterwards. This is my dream and my faith in God will help me to fulfill it.

AW – When you look at Wladimir what do you see as strengths and areas of weakness?

KP – Inside the ring it is all about what I can do and do better than him. Actually, I think that footwork will be a deciding factor but you have to wait to see it yourself. One thing that is for sure is that Klitschko will not be able to impose his physique on me – for example, he will not be able to clinch me as he did with (Alexander) Povetkin.

AW – In April, Klitschko defended his titles against the WBO mandatory challenger, Alex Leapai. He had his way before comfortably dispatching Leapai in the fifth round – what did you think of that fight and his performance?

KP – His opponent back then was out of his league, to put it charitably. Leapai was not better than my latest rivals and those were stay-busy fights. To sum up, I can say that this was unworthy of a heavyweight world championship bout.

AW – Have you ever been in camp with Wladimir Klitschko, maybe sparred with him?

KP – No. I first met him in person at the kick-off press conference.

AW – The best wins you have on your record are Alexander Dimitrenko and Tony Thompson. This is a big step up from that level – what gives you confidence that you can beat Klitschko?

KP – My training, my coach, the whole team that is surrounding me. Everyone will eventually meet his match and I believe that I am in the right place at the right time to end the reign of Klitschko.

AW – I know from speaking to you before that you are popular in Bulgaria, you’ve appeared on TV in commercials and even been invited to spend time with the president. Tell us about those opportunities?

KP – Meeting our prime minister was a big honor. I respect him and I believe that he is the right man to lead Bulgaria.

AW – When you look at the heavyweight division what are your thoughts?

KP – They all want to become world champions so I will have to fight some of them sooner rather sooner than later.

AW – We know about Kubrat Pulev the boxer – tell us about him the person.

KP – I am playing chess as much as I can. Football (soccer) is also a passion of mine. My friends and training partners call me the “Big Messi” (after Lionel Messi) for my skills and technique. As in boxing you have to come to a decision in an instant. This is also where my footwork stems from.

AW – In closing do you have a message for Klitschko?

KP – Two years ago I told you that I am coming to get you. On November 15 your time runs out and a new era is about to begin.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected]and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright