Kubrat Pulev relaxed in bio-secure bubble ahead of Anthony Joshua fight

PA

Kubrat Pulev is making the most of being in a bio-secure bubble ahead of Saturday’s world heavyweight fight with Anthony Joshua at Wembley’s SSE Arena.

It is the second time the Bulgarian has been given a shot at fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion after losing to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.

He was knocked out in the fifth round by the Ukrainian but felt his build-up was ruined by distractions outside of the ring, which will not be the case this time because the 39-year-old is forced to stay in a bio-secure bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There were many problems with my promoters talking about tickets and money before the fight, they were mistakes because I was not relaxed,” Pulev explained.

“I was not only thinking about training and the strategy for the fight, I was thinking about ticket sales, money and signing things for my manager.

“It just did not work. This week has been amazing because we are in the bubble, people want to see me but I tell them I am in the bubble.”

Anthony Joshua was knocked down four times on his way to defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in June 2019
Anthony Joshua was knocked down four times on his way to defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden in June 2019

While Pulev has tunnel vision ahead of Saturday, for Joshua it is a different story with constant talk over his proposed double-header with Tyson Fury in 2021.

Promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed the fight is “as close to 100 per cent as it can be” assuming the favourite triumphs this weekend.

It brings back memories of Joshua’s first fight with Andy Ruiz Jr where a lot of the pre-fight focus was on a future showdown with Deontay Wilder and not the upcoming bout at Madison Square Garden.

That ended in a shock defeat and Pulev is eager for history to repeat itself, saying: “I like that people are talking more about Joshua vs Fury than Joshua vs Pulev. It is not insulting to me, I like it.

“Everybody might think professional heavyweight boxers are dumb but we are smart people and a smart person would not be insulted by this, I am glad.

“I am happy because while he is thinking about something and somebody else, he is underestimating me and the current situation. This cannot insult me, my ego is not like that, it’s a good situation for me.”

When Pulev fought Klitschko with the IBF belt on the line, 1.8million people from Bulgaria tuned in.

It will be a similar situation on Saturday and ‘The Cobra’ believes becoming his country’s first world heavyweight champion would raise his profile to the level of footballing great Hristo Stoichkov, who he declares a good friend.

“He is my friend, Stoichkov,” Pulev said. “He is a good man and a very good guy.

“I know most of the famous people in Bulgaria. He is a good friend because we have one restaurant and he lives near the restaurant and every time when he is in Bulgaria, he calls me and we sit and eat together, joke together.”

Pulev declared himself ready to fight 20 rounds if needed after training in mountains 2,300 metres above sea level and is sporting a more slender physique than usual.

A rematch clause is in place were he to shock Joshua in front of 1,000 fans, but he does not expect it to be exercised.

“When I win now, and a good win so I mean a clean win, maybe he doesn’t want it,” Pulev concluded.

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