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Kubrat Pulev faces Rydell Booker on Herring-Roach card

Photo by Jhay Oh Otamias

Heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev will face Rydell Booker on Nov. 9, Top Rank announced today.

The 10-round bout will take place at the Chukchansi Park (home of the Giants’ Triple A-affiliate Grizzlies) in Fresno, California. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring and mandatory challenger Lamont Roach.

Both fights will stream live on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

Pulev (27-1, 14 knockouts), who is originally from Sofia, Bulgaria and now trains in Las Vegas, knocked out Bogdan Dinu in his last bout on Mar. 23.

The 38-year-old was accused of sexual harassment after kissing a female reporter in the lips without her consent in his locker room immediately after the fight. Pulev was indefinitely suspended by the California Athletic Commission in May but was reinstated on July 22 after complying with provisions by the commission, including paying a $2,500 fine and complete a sexual harassment course before he could apply for a boxing license.

Pulev, who is the IBF mandatory challenger to face titleholder Andy Ruiz, has won his last seven bouts since suffering his only defeat at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in November of 2014. With a possible world title fight on the line next year, Pulev is not overlooking Booker.

““This fight with Rydell Booker is very important because of what’s at stake,” said Pulev, who is ranked No. 10 by The Ring. “Everything is on the line. I am the top contender in the heavyweight division, and I am the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua rematch. I want the winner. It doesn’t matter who it is.”

Booker (26-2, 13 KOs) last fought on June 7, stopping Dieuly Aristilde in round three. The fight came less than two months after losing to unbeaten prospect Jermaine Franklin by unanimous decision.

The other notable fight for the 38-year-old was a unanimous decision loss to James Toney in September of 2004.

“It’s a big deal for me,” said Booker, who is from Detroit and served a 12-year prison sentence for a drug conviction. “This is a chance for me to show everyone that I still have it. I haven’t missed a beat. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in camp with Oleksandr Usyk (in Oxnard, California) for six weeks before I got the fight. The numbers made sense, so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Preliminary action

Former world title challenger Amir Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) will make his Top Rank debut when he squares off against Marcos Mojica (16-4-2, 12 KOs) of Nicaragua in an eight-round welterweight bout. Imam, who settled a lawsuit against promoter Don King in August, has not fought since losing to Jose Ramirez on Mar. 17 of last year. Ramirez would win the vacant WBC junior welterweight title in that fight.

Middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao (24-0, 16 KOs), who is ranked amongst the top-10 in three of boxing’s sanctioning bodies, will face gatekeeper Manny Woods (16-8-1, 6 KOs) in a 10-round bout.

Unbeaten lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores, Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs), who resides in nearby Stockton, will square off against Brazil’s Aelio Mesquita (19-4, 17 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

Middleweight prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly (7-0, 3 KOs) of Kazakhstan, who is trained by James ‘Buddy’ McGirt, will square off against Canada’s Albert Onolunose in a 10-round bout.

Robeisy Ramirez (0-1), who won the gold medal at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and signed a promotional deal with Top Rank earlier this year, will face Fernando Ibarra (2-1) in a six-round featherweight bout. Ramirez lost his pro debut to Adam Gonzales on Aug. 10.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, Boxingscene, and He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing