Pulev Requests IBF Mandatory Status
Kubrat Pulev and his team have formally petitioned the IBF to be named the mandatory challenger once again and to order current WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. to face him, per a report from Boxing Scene.
Pulev earned the IBF’s mandatory status back in 2016 when he defeated Dereck Chisora and was scheduled to challenge then-champion Anthony Joshua back in October 2017. He was forced to withdraw due to injury, however, and Joshua ended up defeating replacement challenger Carlos Takam.
Pulev regained the IBF mandatory status back in October with a win over Hughie Fury. Pulev and his team argue the two wins and Pulev staying active should give him a mandated fight with Ruiz, who upset Joshua in June to win the IBF Heavyweight Championship (as well as the WBA (Super), WBO and IBO titles).
Pulev and his team claim he was to be next in line had Joshua retained the unified heavyweight title against Ruiz in June, which he feels should further Pulev’s case to be the IBF mandatory.
“I was ready to face Anthony Joshua in November and now I’m eager to challenge Andy Ruiz,” Pulev said. “I will fight Ruiz anywhere in the world. Let’s make it happen.”
Pulev most recently fought in March, knocking out Bogdan Dinu. He was temporarily suspended and revoked of his boxing license after the fight. Pulev regained his license earlier this week following a hearing with the California State Athletic Commission and completing a course on sexual harassment.
The IBF is known to strictly adhere to its mandatory challenger rules. After Tyson Fury gained the unified heavyweight title with an upset of Wladimir Klitschko in late 2015, he was stripped of the IBF title 10 days later after Fury chose to pursue Klitschko — who was invoking a rematch clause — over the IBF mandatory. That set up a path that led to Ruiz’s current title run.
Last year, the IBF stripped Gennadiy Golovkin of its middleweight title after electing to rematch with Canelo Alvarez instead of facing mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who would end up losing to Daniel Jacobs for the vacant title. Jacobs then lost the title to Alvarez in a May title unification match. Alvarez now finds himself in similar waters of uncertainty — stuck between Derevyanchenko as his mandatory challenger and a superfight with WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (though Kovalev also is dealing with his own WBO mandatory in Anthony Yarde).
Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, have made it clear they will invoke their rematch clause and expect it to be Ruiz’s first defense — something that doesn’t sit well with Pulev’s promoters, Bob Arum of Top Rank and Ivaylo Gotzev of Epic Sports.
“Eddie is running this heavyweight title like it’s his own private enterprise,” Gotzev said. “The bottom line is, Pulev originally fought an IBF eliminator over three years ago and was next in line with his IBF mandatory status. The IBF is an organization that has set a precedent for following their written rules and, according to rule 5.A.1., Ruiz’s rematch clause against Joshua does not affect his obligation to defend his title against the IBF leading available contender. Mandatory obligations supersede a promoter’s promotional rights. The IBF should not set aside their rules over the contractual details of a past fight.
Two months have gone by since the Joshua bubble burst. No deal has been confirmed, only the occasional blurb by Eddie Hearn, of [a] potential site and really no particular date. Eddie Hearn was talking to us for a November date at Wembley Stadium and Andy Ruiz ruined those plans. Andy is the new face of heavyweight boxing and we respect his fighting abilities. Pulev vs Ruiz will be a formidable battle.