Kubrat Venkov Pulev is a Bulgarian professional boxer. He held the European heavyweight title twice between 2012 and 2016, and has challenged once for the unified world heavyweight title in 2014. As an amateur he won multiple medals at international tournaments, including gold at the 2008 European Championships and bronze at the 2005 World Championships, all in the super-heavyweight division. As of August 2020, he is ranked as the world’s ninth best active heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
In February 2002, Pulev won the Strandzha Cup in his native Bulgaria. Pulev, who is nicknamed The Cobra, beat Cuban world champion Odlanier Solís in the process. One month later, he lost a rematch to the Cuban at the semifinal of the Chemiepokal Cup. He could not participate at the Euros 2002 in Perm after breaking his arm in sparring. At the European boxing championships 2004 in Pula, he defeated world class Alexander Povernov.
Pulev vs. Dimitrenko, Ustinov: Pulev got his first title opportunity when it was announced in March 2012 he would fight Alexander Dimitrenko on the Marco Huck vs. Ola Afolabi WBO cruiserweight championship undercard on 5 May in Erfurt, Germany for the vacant EBU European Heavyweight Championship. Many observers were giving both fighters an even chance to win, and expected the winner of this bout to fight for the title in the near future. Pulev and his trainer Otto Ramin expected a tough fight although Dimitrenko had not fought since September 2011.
Pulev vs. Thompson, Abell: Having not fought in 11 months, Pulev next fought on 24 August 2013, against former world title challenger Tony Thompson in a final eliminator in Schwerin, Germany. Thompson was coming off back to back wins against British contender David Price. The fight went the 12 round distance with Pulev announced the winner. The three judges scored the fight 116–112, 118–110, and 117–111 in his favour. Thompson started off slow and defensive, but never landed anything of note during the fight.
Pulev vs. Klitschko: The IBF finally ordered Wladimir Klitschko vs. Pulev on 8 May 2014, and given 30 days negotiation period. Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente stated that a potential fight with WBC champion Bermane Stiverne was their main priority, a fight which would see all of the heavyweight belts at stake. Kalle Sauerland stated that he would request to get Klitschko stripped of the IBF title if he didn’t fight Pulev. At the same time Deontay Wilder was named Stiverne’s mandatory and the WBC stated he must fight Wilder next.
Back to winning ways: Pulev signed an contract extension with Team Sauerland on 11 February 2015. it was also revealed that Pulev would not be trained by well known German coach Ulli Wegner. Following his first professional defeat, Pulev took 11 months out, before returning to the ring on 17 October 2015, against 41-year-old journeyman George Arias in an 8-round bout. The fight was scheduled to take place at the DM-Arena in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg.
Cancelled world title fight
On 10 December 2016, Anthony Joshua knocked out Eric Molina in the third round and the Joshua vs. Klitschko fight was officially announced. WBA president Gilberto J. Mendoza confirmed that the winner will have to face mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz next, with deadlines due to be set after the unification fight. A day later the IBF announced the winner must fight their mandatory challenger Pulev. Because of this clashing with the WBA enforcing their mandatory, it was believed that either Joshua or Klitschko would have to vacate a title.
Pulev vs. Hughie Fury: In March 2018, the IBF ordered Pulev vs. Dominic Breazeale for a final eliminator, however Breazeale refused to take part. In April, the IBF ordered Pulev to fight British boxer Dillian Whyte. A purse bid was set for 10 May. The purse bids were delayed as a deal between Eddie Hearn and Team Sauerland, Pulev’s promoter was close to being agreed. The IBF gave them until 24 May.