Anthony Joshua will make the first defence of his regained world titles when he faces Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, and the bookmakers are backing him to return to knockout ways by stopping the challenger inside 12 rounds.
Joshua was knocked off his perch in sensational fashion last June when he was knocked down four times and stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr in New York, but he bounced back later that year with a dominant 12-round display to regain the world titles from Mexico’s first heavyweight champion, and ever since that night there has been much discussion about a potential unification fight in 2020.
Promoter Eddie Hearn publicly declared he wanted to set up a fight between Anthony Joshua and WBC champion Tyson Fury this summer after watching the ‘Gypsy King’ beat Deontay Wilder last month, and there were rumours that the dethroned ‘Bronze Bomber’ had been offered ‘step aside’ money in order to try to force through a huge all-British heavyweight collision later this year.
However, Wilder has invoked the rematch clause in the deal he signed for his second fight with Fury and that means Joshua’s next outing will see him take on mandatory IBF heavyweight title contender Kubrat Pulev. And after months of speculation it appears as though we now know the date and the venue – Saturday, June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
The news was broken by Pulev in a post on his Facebook page today, with the 38-year-old Bulgarian confirming that the “contract is already officially signed” before declaring how “happy” he is “to be able to show the world how strong I am.”
Joshua then followed that post with a tweet of his own, confirming his first fight in the UK since September 2018 would take place on June 20.
June 20th 🗓 pic.twitter.com/4FbiftE8Cl
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) March 2, 2020
It goes without saying that fight fans would have preferred to see Joshua step inside the ring with Fury this June, but with Wilder exorcising his rematch clause to face Fury that left very little in the way of options for the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion.
He must now dispatch of Pulev in order to potentially face the winner of Fury-Wilder 3, and despite last year’s sensational upset at the hands of Ruiz Jr the bookmakers are confident that Joshua will get the job done, with Paddy Power installing him as a 1/8 favourite and Pulev as a 5/1 underdog.
The Irish bookie also expects it to be an emphatic result for Joshua. By the time the heavyweight champion steps in the ring he will not have knocked out an opponent for almost 21 months, but Paddy Power fully expects him to get back to KO ways on June 20, going 1/2 about Joshua stopping his challenger inside 12 rounds.