Ryan Karl: ‘A win against Barrios puts me right there at the top with Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez’

Ryan “Cowboy” Karl is determined to take full advantage of the opportunity in front of him as he prepares to battle unbeaten WBA Super Lightweight Champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios in the SHOWTIME PPV co-main event this Saturday, October 31 from Alamodome in San Antonio in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

“I’m not content just fighting for a title, I’ll be happy when I win the title,” said Karl. “This is everything that I’ve been working my whole life for. This moment is a huge opportunity for me. A lot of fighters never get this chance.”

The Milano, Texas native enters this fight on a three-bout winning streak, with all of those victories coming by stoppage. This run has come after Karl’s two losses came in a span of four fights from 2017 to 2018, an experience that provided valuable lessons for the 28-year-old.

“I learned to listen better to my corner,” said Karl. “I also learned to not take fights when you’re injured and not fully healed, as well as to not overlook people. I thought that I was so good that I could beat a good fighter when I was less than 100%. So, I’ve learned to not take my health for granted and that you have to be healthy enough to spar and prepare the right way.”

Karl’s winning streak was kicked off by him avenging one of his losses, as he scored a fifth-round knockout over Kevin Watts after suffering that same result in their first matchup. Most recently, Karl triumphed over Bergman Aguilar last November.
“I’ve always believed that I’d be a world champion,” said Karl. “We’ve had setbacks with injuries and other obstacles, but I’ve never doubted myself or thought that I couldn’t do it. I’m lucky to have strong family support as well, which has helped me keep the faith.”

In Karl’s corner is his longtime coach, the renowned Ronnie Shields, who has guided Karl throughout his pro career and during this training camp in the midst of a pandemic. Karl has been sparring with unbeaten Kent Cruz in preparation and has also been buoyed by being able to still be with his family during camp.

“Training camp is going great and we’re very happy with our progress,” said Karl. “It’s definitely different with my coaches wearing masks in the gym and being as cautious as we can be. But the fact that I’m still able to see my wife and my sons is great. My oldest son Jace is six and he’s doing online learning from home at the moment. And then I have a one-year-old son named Jack as well. So it’s great to be around them and my wife who’s due to have our daughter in December.

Karl and San Antonio’s Barrios are very familiar with each other dating back to their days competing in the same amateur tournaments in Texas. Despite their proximity, it was only in recent years, as Barrios moved up in weight, that Karl began to see him as a possible future opponent.

“Early on I didn’t think we’d ever fight because he was so small, but then I saw that he was moving up and I started thinking that he was tall enough that we might see him down the road,” said Karl. “I didn’t know him very well in the amateurs because he was a lot younger than me. Around the time that I turned pro I was 22 and Mario was only 18 then. He was just a lot smaller and younger than me.

“Mario has done a great job as a pro. His managers have built him up and gotten the right fights for him, fighting a lot of smaller guys. He has good power and he’s a good boxer. He does a lot of things well. I think that I’ll be his biggest opponent to date, but he’s handled his previous opponents well so far.”

The “Cowboy” has become known for his come forward style, one that he believes will create a memorable fight for the fans and end with him amongst the sport’s 140-pound elite on October 31.

“I’m not the type of fighter to go in there and wait a bunch of rounds to come on,” said Karl.  “Everybody knows that I like to fight. I’m anticipating an exciting, competitive fight. This one definitely won’t be boring. I expect us to throw lots of punches and I’m in great shape, so that plays to my strengths.

“A win against Barrios puts me right there at the top with Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez. So hopefully this will get me a chance at them and revitalize my career for the biggest and best fights.”

Khabib: ‘I really want to see Usyk versus Fury’

UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov says he wants to see former Undisputed Cruiserweight World Champion Oleksandr Usyk take on WBC Heavyweight ruler Tyson Fury.

Dana White hailed Russia’s Nurmagomedov as the ‘GOAT’ and pound-for-pound best after he sensationally retired following his second-round stoppage of Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi.

The undefeated Lightweight World Champion is a long-time fan of boxing, and was even spotted ringside for Anthony Joshua’s huge rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia last year, but it is Ukraine’s Usyk he wants to see share the ring with ‘The Gypsy King’, not ‘AJ’.

When asked for his assessment of the sport, prior to Vasiliy Lomachenko’s loss to Teofimo Lopez in Las Vegas, Khabib told reporters: “Right now, I think three guys. Oleksandr Usyk, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Canelo Alvarez.

“Oh sorry, Tyson Fury too. Four guys. It’s very hard [to decide] who is the best.

“I really want to see Usyk vs Fury. It’s gonna be a very good fight. He [Usyk] has very good skill and technique, Tyson Fury too.

“He is not like other Heavyweights, more technique, his footwork is very good, his conditioning is very good, I really wanna watch Usyk against Fury.”

Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) sits as WBO Mandatory Challenger to Joshua, but must first deal with an in-form Derek Chisora at The SSE Arena Wembley on Saturday, shown live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in all of its nine markets including the U.S.

Usyk vs. Chisora tops a huge night of action, Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) and George Kambosos Jr (18-0, 10 KOs) meet in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Lightweight World Title, Heavyweight fan favourite Dave Allen (18-5-2, 15 KOs) returns against America’s KO artist Christopher Lovejoy (19-0, 19 KOs), Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall (8-0, 6 KOs) takes on Glasgow’s Hannah Rankin (9-4, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBO Middleweight World Title, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (16-2, 8 KOs) meets Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune (25-1-2, 14 KOs) for the vacant European Cruiserweight Title and Amy Timlin (4-0) faces off with Carly Skelly (3-0) for the vacant Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight Title.

Clayton: ‘At the end of the day, you can’t knock the judges’ decision, but I thought that I landed the cleaner shots and won’

Former world champion Sergey Lipinets and unbeaten Custio Clayton fought to a majority draw Saturday night in a welterweight clash headlining action live on SHOWTIME® from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) and Clayton (18-0-1, 12 KOs) each added the first draw of their professional careers in the 12-round SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION battle for the Interim IBF Welterweight Title. One judge scored the fight 115-113 for Clayton, but was overruled by the two judges who scored the bout a 114-114 draw. (Round six video highlights here: https://twitter.com/ShowtimeBoxing/status/1320209815503839234?s=20)

“I thought I won the fight, but Clayton is a good fighter,” said Lipinets. “He was stronger than I thought he’d be. I haven’t fought in a year and it shows. I need to get my rhythm back in a couple of fights before I face the top level fighters.”

“At the end of the day, you can’t knock the judges’ decision, but I thought that I landed the cleaner shots and won,” said Clayton. “He came forward a lot, but he wasn’t landing as much. I probably could have pushed more a little earlier, but at the same time, I knew he was strong. I thought I stayed patient and poised. I could have put combinations together quicker, but overall I thought I fought a smart fight and pulled it off.”

The fight was defined by the Russian Lipinets’ blistering body attack against the precision of the Canadian Olympian Clayton’s jab. According to CompuBox, Lipinets out landed Clayton to the body by an 80 to 29 tally, while Clayton had the superior jab to the tune of 135 landed compared to 68 from Lipinets.

Clayton was able to stymie the powerful Lipinets for much of the fight with his movement and that jab, but never put together the offensive arsenal to discourage Lipinets from coming forward. Clayton won the final three rounds on all of the judges’ cards to earn the draw.

“I showed the world that I’m not just a guy from Canada,” said Clayton. “I proved I’m a good fighter. People will have to respect me a little bit more. If Lipinets wants the rematch for the interim title, we should be able to make that happen.”

“For the interim title, I’ll be ready for a rematch with Clayton,” added Lipinets.

In the co-main event, unbeaten contender Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) survived two knockdowns to win a unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero (24-5, 17 KOs) in their WBA Super Featherweight Title Eliminator. After 12 rounds, all three judges scored the fight for Martinez, by scores of 115-111 and 114-112 twice. (Video highlights here: https://twitter.com/ShowtimeBoxing/status/1320198274733715457?s=20

“Not every win is going to be pretty and a knockout, but if you can pull yourself out of tough situations, it proves what type of fighter you are,” said Martinez. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. I told [trainer] Ray [Woods] I might hit this guy a couple of times and he might not drop. It’s all part of the experience.”

The fight featured ebbs and flows, with each man seemingly in control at different times throughout. Sacramento’s Martinez flashed impressive combination punching, punctuating many attacks with a left hook that slowly closed Marrero’s right eye. Representing his native Dominican Republic, Marrero actually held the statistical edge in the fight, out landing Martinez 161 to 128.

Marrero seemed to change the tide of the fight in round eight, landing a powerful right hook to the head that dropped Martinez in the first minute of the frame. Marrero followed up with a flurry finished off by a right hook that again dropped Martinez. Despite the two knockdowns, Martinez was able to survive the rest of the round and avoid the hard-charging Marrero.

“To be honest, it was weird when I got knocked down,” said Martinez. “I just said, ‘Let’s get back up.’ Losing wasn’t on my mind. I just thought I have to get up. I’m not happy I went down but it’s all an experience. A lot of guys wouldn’t have fought Claudio. He was tough. But I rose to the occasion and I proved something to myself.”

Although he was fighting past the eighth round for the first time in his career, Martinez was able to regain his momentum through the championship rounds to clinch the victory.

“I feel like it was a bad decision,” said Marrero. “I don’t think the judges took into account all the hard work I did in the ring. I wouldn’t do anything different if I fought him again. I would fight the same way. I fought smart and I put pressure on him.He hits hard, but I recovered quickly. I felt like I won the fight.”

“I have the will to win,” said Martinez. “I just didn’t want to lose. I trained very hard for this fight, and I wasn’t going to go out like that. I wanted to show everyone that even though I got dropped, I could come back and win it. Some young fighters will fold, but I showed that I won’t. I’m proud of myself.”

In the telecast opener, super lightweight contender Subriel Matias (16-1, 16 KOs) scored a TKO victory over Malik Hawkins (18-1, 11 KOs) after six rounds of action. The fight was stopped on the recommendation of the ringside physician prior to the start of the seventh round and is officially scored a TKO one second into the seventh. (Video highlights here: https://twitter.com/ShowtimeBoxing/status/1320182196079071232?s=20)

“The biggest difference between this fight and my loss was the way I trained in the gym,” said Puerto Rico’s Matias. “I didn’t train as much as I should have for my last fight. Malik didn’t have the power to hurt me. In the first round, I knew that. And that’s when I kept moving forward and starting hurting him in the body. That’s what I kept doing, just going to the body.”

After Baltimore’s Hawkins won the first round on all three judges’ cards, Matias began to outwork his opponent and consistently land his left hook to the head and body. In round six, Matias knocked down a fading Hawkins with that hook, the first time Hawkins had been down in his career.

Matias was the busier fighter from rounds two through six, landing 137 punches to Hawkins’ 94. His left hook also helped him to a 122 to 70 advantage in power punches landed, while swelling the right eye of Hawkins that would lead to the end of the fight. Matias led by the score of 59-54 on all three judges’ cards at the time of the stoppage.

“He was doing a bunch of dirty things in the fight,” said Hawkins. “I’m not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. He was the better man tonight. I’m getting right back into the gym.”

“I’ll fight anyone,” said Matias. “Whoever they put in front of me, it doesn’t matter. I want a title eliminator, and then I want to fight for a world title.”

Photo: Amanda Westscott

Chisora: ‘I will make sure that when Usyk gets out that ring he knows he has been in a fight’

Derek Chisora says Oleksandr Usyk is in store for the “fright of his life” when they collide in a Heavyweight Halloween blockbuster at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday October 31, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all of its nine markets including the U.S.

‘WAR’ Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) intends on giving Usyk nightmares in his second fight up at Heavyweight, and the Finchley powerhouse heads into next weekend’s clash in terrifying form having scored big knockout wins over Artur Szpika and David Price at The O2 in 2019.

“On October 31st, Oleksandr Usyk is going to get the fright of his life,” said Chisora. “He wants to claim he is at the top of the food chain, but if he wants to do that he needs to box a true Heavyweight. It’s a fight, the guy is going to chuck the kitchen sink at me. I’m just going to bite down on the gum shield and let god take over. I am coming for war!

“The fight sells itself, he is a good fighter and is loved by the English fans. Even people who don’t like boxing love watching him and he’s fighting myself. There is nothing bad about this fight, there’s not hatred, it’s all about the love for the sport.

“He’s not scary, it’s a fight. He’s a man and I’m a man. The worst thing that can happen is you get knocked out. I will make sure that when Usyk gets out that ring he knows he has been in a fight. Seek and destroy, no mercy! That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Usyk vs. Chisora tops a huge night of action, Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) and George Kambosos Jr (18-0, 10 KOs) meet in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Lightweight World Title, Heavyweight fan favourite Dave Allen (18-5-2, 15 KOs) returns, Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall (8-0, 6 KOs) takes on Glasgow’s Hannah Rankin (9-4, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBO Middleweight World Title, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (16-2, 8 KOs) meets Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune (25-1-2, 14 KOs) for the vacant European Cruiserweight Title and Amy Timlin (4-0) faces off with Carly Skelly (3-0) for the vacant Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight Title.

Prograis on fight with Heraldez: ‘I’m not big on predictions, but I’ll be victorious’

Former super lightweight world champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis talked about moving his training camp from Los Angeles back to Houston and more as he previewed his upcoming showdown against unbeaten Juan Heraldez that takes place Saturday, October 31 live on SHOWTIME PPV from Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

“Training camp is going great and I’m thrilled to be back home in Houston with my team,” said Prograis. “I have my best training here. It’s just a strict training camp lifestyle. When I lived in L.A. I had great training, but it’s just a vacation lifestyle that doesn’t work for me right now. Down here in Houston I’m with my long-time trainer Bobby Benton at the Main Street Boxing Gym. There’s no frills in there, it’s always very hot.”

Even from the early days of the pandemic, Prograis was still finding ways to safely stay in shape for an eventual return to the ring. Since moving training back to Houston, he’s continued to responsibly put himself in position to be at his very best on October 31.

“When the pandemic started, I was still living in Los Angeles, so I’d go to the gym late at night and train by myself,” said Prograis. “Since I moved back to Houston, we’ve taken all the protocols to have a safe camp and prepare to our fullest for October 31.”

Prior to the pandemic, Prograis had a fight scheduled against former champion Maurice Hooker, which was cancelled along with numerous other fights on the boxing calendar. Now that he has a fight in place, Prograis is eager to return to what he loves.

“I wanted to fight soon after the Josh Taylor fight, because I always want to be active,” said Prograis. “We had a fight set in April against Maurice Hooker, then the pandemic hit and it was postponed. Now my sights are only set on Juan Heraldez. I can’t wait to fight on October 31. I just love to fight.”

For Prograis, this will be his first time on the pay-per-view stage, an opportunity that he relishes. In addition, the fight will have fans in attendance at Alamodome in San Antonio, giving Prograis a chance to return in front of fans in his home state.

“This is my first time on a pay-per-view and first time fighting on a Premier Boxing Champions card, so I’m very excited,” said Prograis. ” I fought six times on ShoBox: The New Generation and really started to make my name on that series, so to be back on SHOWTIME is a great feeling. I’m thrilled that we’re fighting in front of fans at the Alamodome. It’s only a couple hours away from Houston and I know San Antonio’s a great fight town. It’s going to be a tremendous night.”

In Heraldez, Prograis is matched up against an unbeaten opponent who is looking to use a career-best victory on October 31 to springboard himself into the 140-pound elite that Prograis has long been amongst. Because of that, Prograis knows not to take him lightly heading into their showdown.

“I don’t know too much about Juan Heraldez, but for him this is a great opportunity, so I know he’s going to come into the fight with guns blazing,” said Prograis. “We’ll see what happens once the fight starts. I can box and I can bang, and the way I’m training, I’ll be more than ready for whatever he brings. I’m not big on predictions, but I’ll be victorious.”

Lipinets: ‘I want to fight the best’

Even with a change in date and then opponent, former world champion Sergey Lipinets remains supremely confident in his training camp and overall preparations as he prepares to take on unbeaten Custio Clayton for the Interim IBF Welterweight Title live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, October 24 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
 
“We never missed a beat in preparation, even with the opponent change,” said Lipinets. “My fight with Kudratillo Abdukakhorov was on and off for so long that I already had an idea that he was going to be forced to back out, so I wasn’t shocked. I don’t really care, though. Whoever I have to fight I’m ready to fight, so I didn’t consider backing out of fighting for even one second.”
 
Lipinets credits his trainer, the renowned Joe Goossen, for helping his fighter mentally through the changes, in addition to the physical training they have undertook heading into the fight.
 
“Having Joe Goossen is like having a psychiatrist as well as a trainer,” said Lipinets. “He’s been extremely helpful about how to approach all of this. Joe helped me stay calm and understand that something good can always come from a bad or difficult situation, and because of that, I never lost focus.”
 
Clayton is a Canadian Olympian with an unblemished pro resume heading into this showdown. While Lipinets notes that there are differences in the fighting styles between Abdukakhorov and Clayton, none of it changes his intent on October 24.
 
“I know that Clayton has a great amateur background,” said Lipinets. “I’ve checked out his style, and the main difference is that Abdukakhorov is more active and Clayton is more accurate. Abdukakhorov is also a little more aggressive and Clayton is more patient.

“I don’t think one is tougher or easier than the other. I think that anyone fighting at this level is a difficult opponent. Abdukakhorov moves around more and can be more awkward with the different styles he uses. Both are very tough guys, but I’m ready for Clayton and focused only on him at this point.”
 
Despite his sole focus on Clayton, Lipinets knows that this fight brings a big opportunity to make a loud proclamation to the rest of the stacked welterweight division with a big performance to capture the interim IBF title.
 
“I’m prepared to make one statement – I belong here,” said Lipinets. “I want to fight the best. I want to make my imprint on this sport and build my legacy. I’ve had to do it the hard way, but I’m not complaining. I fought for my first championship in just my 13th pro fight. I believe that I belong right there at the top of this sport. People need to start mentioning my name with the top guys and after this fight they’ll have to. You can’t look past me anymore.”

Danny Romans wants Luis Nery

Former unified WBA and IBF super-bantamweight world champion, Danny “The Baby Face Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs), is back in the gym and making it clear who he wants next, and that’s WBC super-bantamweight champion Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs).

“My last fight against (Juan Carlos) Payano was a WBC final eliminator and I am back in the gym with the goal of getting the green belt against Nery,” said Roman, who is promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions. “Since I started boxing, I have always wanted to win it and I’d like to make that a reality. I am more focused than ever as I wait for the opportunity to fight for WBC super-bantamweight title. I want to be a champion again and I will prepare harder than ever.”

“Daniel Roman can’t be written off at all, he has proven he is still at the top of his game,” said Alex Camponovo, general manager for Thompson Boxing. “Danny is making it clear that he wants the WBC strap and when he sets his mind on something, he finds a way to get it.”

“Daniel Roman is a consummate professional,” said Eddie Gonzalez, Roman’s manager and trainer. “He was right back in the gym after his win over Juan Carlos Payano and is more focused than ever. He wants Nery because he wants to win the green belt and I think that would be a great action-packed fight for the fans.”

“My desire to be a world champion once again is what’s fueling my hard work in the gym,” Roman concluded. “I know what I am capable of and I fought on the same night as Nery so we should both be ready at the same time. It makes sense and will be great fight for the fans.”

Teofimo Lopez is the new king of 135-pound division

We have a new king in the 135-pound division. On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand Conference Center, “The Takeover” Teofimo Lopez((16-0, 12 KOs) put on a masterful performance and defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko(14-2, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision. Lopez, and father/trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., kept telling us for years that he was going to ‘Takeover” the 135-pound division, and he did it. 

Lopez won on all three scorecards, 119-109, 118-110, and 116-112). goforitradio.com scored the fight 116-112 for Lopez. The Brooklyn native was in complete control in the first half of the fight, and in the later rounds, Lomachenko, who did not do much in the early rounds, started to pick up the pace. Lomachenko was scoring late in the fight, but Lopez won the 12th round emphatically and closed the show. With the victory, the 23-year-old Lopez becomes the youngest four-belt world champion.

“I had to dig deep, man,” Lopez said after the fight. “I’m thankful. I’m grateful. And each and every day, I take that in. I thank God first because I couldn’t do it without him.

“I’m a fighter. I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn’t know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight. I can bang, too. I don’t care, man. I’ll take one to give one. That’s what a true champion does. I find a way to win.”

For Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), who is a three-weight world champion, this was a case of too little, too late. It appeared that Lomachenko was wary of Lopez’s power and really did not have much activity. While Lomachenko won a bunch of belts at 135, it’s not his best weight. He gets touched up a little more at 135, including being knocked down by Jorge Linares back in 2018. So, it should be interesting to see what he does next.

Regarding Lopez, he’s a star at this point, and the only thing left for him to do at 135, is to fight WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney, which would be a great fight to make in 2021. However, there are other big fights at 135, including fights with Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia. Lopez, who is a big 135-pounder, could even move up to 140. However, no matter what he does next, it’s clear, a star was born on Saturday night.

Photo: Top Rank Boxing/Mikey Williams

 

Joshua-Pulez set for December 12

Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London on Saturday December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all of its nine markets including the U.S., on a show promoted by Matchroom Boxing in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment.

Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) recaptured his belts and position as the Unified Heavyweight World Champion with a masterful unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on an historical night in December that saw the Heavyweight World Titles contested for the very first time in the Middle East.

December 12 will be ‘AJ’s’ first fight on UK soil in over two years, since he defended his crowns with a devastating seventh round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, and the former Finchley ABC man will be aiming to deal with Pulev in style to set up an Undisputed showdown against WBC Champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.

Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF’s No.1-ranked Heavyweight Mandatory Challenger, gets his second shot at World honours after his defeat to modern legend Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – the only loss of his 29-fight professional career. He has won six fights in a row since then, including victories over Derek Chisora and an IBF Eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018.

The Bulgarian superstar was set to challenge Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017 but was forced to withdraw through an injury and will now get his opportunity to ruin the champion’s plans to face Fury in an all-British blockbuster showdown in the future.

“December 12 is the date and once again the Heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK,” said Joshua.

“The O2 is the original lion’s den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.  I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”

“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the Heavyweight Titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev. “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”

“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified World Heavyweight Championship is very special,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s resume is unrivaled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year.

“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become World Champion on Dec 12 but AJ constantly evolves and improves and I expect a dominant performance and a spectacular KO to close out 2020.”

“Anthony Joshua returns to the ring, a year after recapturing his World Titles from Andy Ruiz Jr, and Britain’s Unified World Champion will be determined to reign supreme in a hotly-contested Heavyweight division,” said Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing Development.

“Kubrat Pulev has proven pedigree, with just that sole defeat to Wladimir Klitschko, and he’ll be hoping to send more shockwaves through the sport with an upset victory, but I know that AJ has been training tirelessly, priming his explosive power for another night of fireworks.

“Tyson Fury will of course be watching – as an Undisputed World Title fight is within touching distance – and AJ cannot afford a slip-up in a blockbuster ending to the boxing year.”

DAZN is currently available in the U.S., as well as Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.