Kubrat Pulev has vowed to "brutally" beat "coward" Anthony Joshua and believes the Brit is "afraid" to fight him outside of his homeland.

IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Joshua and mandatory challenger Pulev were due to do battle at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that.

Pulev was first set to step into the ring with Joshua in 2017 only for the Bulgarian to withdraw due to injury.

Talk of a unification bout between Joshua and Tyson Fury has intensified, but Pulev warned that will not be happening as he will dethrone the 2012 Olympic champion.

"I'm way more precise than him as well as a much smarter boxer. And I will beat him. Brutally," he told Sky Sports.

Pulev says Joshua's demands to stage the fight in London shows he is concerned about losing his titles.

He added: "There's no such thing as an ideal location for a true fighter. He can fight everywhere and he's not worried about anything.

"Picking a certain destination is for cowards. For those who prefer to talk a lot rather than act.

"I can think of at least two others who fit this description and who have refused to come to Sofia to face me - Dillian Whyte and Jarrell Miller."

He added: "I think it is obvious - because he's afraid. I don't see any other reason [why Joshua says they must fight in London].

"Why should it be in London? Why the fight can't take place in any other place? You answer this.

"We offered various destinations - from Istanbul to Las Vegas, New York or Saudi Arabia. And then I got the reply that Joshua would come up against me only in London. Otherwise there would be no fight at all. And of course, I agreed to this condition.

"I'm not concerned about the place. For example, I never asked for the fight to be in Sofia. From day one I wanted it to take place at a neutral venue as this would be fair to both sides."

Tyson Fury said he would "fight in Timbuktu if the money's right" after it was reported talks over a unification fight with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia are under way.

Fury's next bout is due to be another rematch with Deontay Wilder later this year, while Joshua was set to fight Kubrat Pulev on June 20 but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With uncertainty over when major sporting action can resume amid the COVID-19 crisis and Wilder recovering from bicep surgery, there has been increased talk of an all-British showdown between Joshua and Fury coming next.

Joshua regained the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in Diriyah last December, where he avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr with a lopsided points triumph, and Fury says he would be willing to fight anywhere if the finances are right.

The WBC champion told ESPN: "I'll fight in Timbuktu if the money's right. I have a bag and I will travel."

Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, confirmed negotiations with Fury's representatives MTK Global have taken place.

"We're talking to MTK about where that fight would take place," he told ESPN. "At the moment, the main focus for everybody [is] the contractual situations."

He added: "The conversations between myself and MTK are that we've had an approach. We've had a number of approaches from territories to stage that fight.

"So the only discussions at the moment are where this fight takes place - and we don't even know when this fight could take place.

"We're certainly open to have discussions about the possibility of this happening this year or in the next fight.

"There's more chance at the moment that the bigger money could come next year because we don't even know if we can do live crowds in November, December."

Tens of thousands of jubilant fans cheering, shouting and singing in unison is one of the most appealing an enduring aspects of major sporting events – an experience of communal joy so lacking in today's altered reality.

However, the most striking memory from Anthony Joshua's bravura display against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley three years ago is not the delirium that followed a stunning 11th-round victory.

That came in round five, when British boxing's golden boy crashed to the canvas as he appeared to be unravelling entirely under the great Klitschko's veteran fists. Heard from the media seats, the sound of 90,000 people gasping into a worried silence was unlike anything else.

As it transpired, Joshua regained his senses and harnessed a first significant brush with adversity to pummel his way to the sweetest of triumphs in a heavyweight fight for the ages.

On that night at England's national stadium, a mere 10 miles from the Finchley ABC gym where he first laced up gloves, Joshua was the man. Similarly, unbeaten knockout artist Deontay Wilder did not have a comparable victory on his record and the heavyweight division's other undefeated champion was in a period of torrid absentia.

"Tyson Fury, where you at, baby?" hollered Joshua in the ring afterwards, drunk on adrenaline and solid right hands.

"Come on - that's what they want to see. I just want to fight everyone. I'm really enjoying this right now."

FRUSTRATION AND STAGNATION

For a chunk of the intervening years, an argument can be made that Joshua was guided by the magnitude of his heroics against Klitschko, as opposed to the factors that landed him in trouble in the first place. He would suffer accordingly.

For that 19th professional bout, Joshua weighed a career heaviest 17st 12lbs. At least, that was until he put on four more pounds for his next outing against Carlos Takam, staged at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

That laboured 10-round triumph was followed by a points win over Joseph Parker to add the WBO title to his IBF and WBA straps. Joshua going the distance for the first time in his career was the most notable aspect in an impressive, yet cagey and rather forgettable win.

Back at Wembley on a sodden September evening in 2018, the champion overcame early problems and a bloodied nose against Alexander Povetkin to almost deposit the veteran Russian through the ropes in round seven.

Once again there was vulnerability and drama from British boxing's box office star on the biggest stage. But there was a mounting problem when it came to giving the people what they wanted. Like Takam and Parker, Povetkin was a fine and worthy foe. But he wasn't Fury and Wilder.

WILDER AND FURY PLOT THEIR OWN PATH

The cynical opportunism big-time boxing does better than any other sport was emphatically on show when Wilder's December 2018 showdown with Fury was confirmed on the same day Joshua fought Povetkin. It marked a shift in the heavyweight division's centre of gravity.

However much Joshua's team had sought a Wilder bout through increasingly fractious and public negotiations, the other two members of the big three facing one another reflected badly on their man in the court of public opinion.

Wilder would also be proved guilty of a miscalculation. Now the dust has settled on two unforgettable bouts with Fury, it is easy to forget what a rank outsider the 'Gypsy King' was going into their initial meeting at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

Yes, he was the man who beat the man, having dethroned Klitschko in November 2015, but personal issues temporarily halted his career.

That Fury returned to the prize ring at all was an achievement and bouts lacking any particular merit against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta should be viewed in that context. Before taking on Wilder, Fury had not had a meaningful bout in three years.

And yet, he had the better of the majority of the fight, even after being put down in round nine. All of that was a mere warm-up for a scarcely credible 12th – Fury rising improbably and cinematically from a brutal knockdown to reach the final bell and be rightly disappointed by a split-decision draw.

Both men marked time in 2019. Wilder inflicting his stupefying power upon Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz, while Fury banked a pair of high-reward/low-risk wins on American soil against Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin.

In between those two wins, Joshua showed winning Stateside with the deck stacked in your favour offered no guarantees.

BRIT BASHING IN THE BIG APPLE

AJ was a couple of pounds lighter than when he fought Klitschko as he ponderously pawed his way through the opening two rounds against late replacement Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.

Still, his shuddering muscularity found a wonderful combination to deck the Mexican in the third. The juggernaut appeared to be charging on until a stunning derailment.

Just as he had done against Klitschko, Joshua surged in for the finish, only to get caught himself. Scrambled from a shot to the temple, he crumpled to the canvas. He was back there again by the end of the round.

Unlike at Wembley, the senses did not clear. The powers of recovery failed him.

Despite being inferior to Klitschko in just about every department, Ruiz did not share the Ukrainian's innate caution. His fast hands continued to fly, a befuddled Joshua went down twice more in round seven and the heavyweight division had its biggest upset since James 'Buster' Douglas beat Mike Tyson.

REDEMPTION IN RIYADH, DEMOLITION IN VEGAS

Now, of course, all four major belts are locked down in the United Kingdom.

After out-boxing Wilder first time around, Fury simply beat up his foe in February to win the WBC title – a win that, aligned with his Klitschko triumph, gives him a resume to compete with many of the most celebrated big men in history.

Joshua heeded the lessons he should have learned in the haze of his post-Wembley triumph by coming in 10 pounds lighter for the return with Ruiz, jabbing and moving with a nimble speed not seen since his early days in the professional ranks. 

You can only beat what's in front of you. And there was an awful lot of Ruiz in front of him. A title won in the gym and the ring six months earlier was partially lost by failing to count calories.

Joshua bears no responsibility for his opponent's unprofessionalism and becoming the fourth man to regain the heavyweight title in an immediate rematch after Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis puts him in esteemed company.

Nevertheless, the topsy-turvy triumph over Klitschko still shines brightest on his 24-fight record. If this remains the case, it will mean Fury, or maybe even the vanquished Wilder, have ended this resurgent heavyweight era on top. Once mandatory obligations are satisfied, those are the fights Joshua needs more than ever.

Everything felt possible for Joshua after his famous Wembley night and that is still broadly true. But if he is to top that dizzying high and follow the trajectory that seemed so certain back then, there is work to be done.

Anthony Joshua will be hopeful of a huge heavyweight unification bout in the near future, but April 29 offers a chance to reflect on one of his greatest achievements.

A bout with IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in June has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Joshua will be keen to soon offer fans in the United Kingdom another taste of the thrills he supplied against Wladimir Klitschko on this day three years ago.

The Briton claimed a victory that effectively retired one of the sport's all-time greats after a fight for the ages.

We look back at that and other memorable events to occur on April 29 down the years.

 

1985 – Taylor takes 'black ball final'

Steve Davis was at the peak of his powers and headed into the 1985 World Snooker Championship at the top of the world rankings and having won three of the previous four editions.

After winning every frame in the opening session, Davis took an 8-0 lead over Dennis Taylor at the start of the second.

However, Taylor rallied and managed to tie the match at 11-11 on the second day and he refused to go away, reeling in Davis again to force a 35th and final frame.

It lasted a tense 68 minutes and continued into the early hours of Monday morning, with Taylor coming from 62-44 down to ensure the title would be decided by the final ball.

Taylor was the man to sink it on his fourth shot, lifting the trophy for the first and only time in his career.

2006 – Texans leave Bush on the board

Having gained 2,000 all-purpose yards in his junior year at the University of Southern California, won the Heisman Trophy – though he was later stripped of it – and clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.33 seconds in USC's post-season pro day showcase, Reggie Bush was tipped to be the top pick in the draft.

He even signed an endorsement deal with Adidas in the days leading up to the event.

However, the Houston Texans took the much-derided decision to overlook Bush and take defensive end Mario Williams out of North Carolina State University.

Bush was taken second overall by the New Orleans Saints and was part of their success at Super Bowl XLIV after the 2009 season.

Williams went on to justify the pick with four Pro Bowl selections and Bush failed to live up to the heights he was tipped for.

2007 – Surrey world record

Ali Brown and James Benning earned Surrey a place in the record books with a gargantuan total against Gloucestershire in a One-Day Cup match.

The Surrey openers shared an opening stand of 294 before Brown, whose century came off just 50 deliveries and racked up 20 fours and eight sixes, was finally dismissed for 176 off 97 balls.

Benning reached 152 but fell to Anthony Ireland after 134 balls, though there was no let up for the visitors.

Rikki Clarke blasted an unbeaten 82 off just 28 deliveries – plundering nine fours and six maximums to lead Surrey to 496-4. It remains the highest innings score by any team in a limited-overs game.

Gloucestershire were skittled for 239 after 34.1 overs, with Surrey consequently claiming a crushing 257-run triumph.

2017 – Joshua clinches statement victory

After beating Charles Martin for the IBF heavyweight title in April 2016, Joshua enjoyed comfortable defences against Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina.

The biggest test of his career was next and it came at a sold-out Wembley against Klitschko, who had dominated the division for the best part of a decade until a shock loss to Tyson Fury in November 2015.

Joshua scored the first knockdown in round five but was sent to the canvas by a resurgent Klitschko in the next session.

Questions had been asked about whether Joshua had the stamina to last the distance given he had not previously been required to go beyond the seventh round.

Despite looking wobbly at points, the Briton had enough in the tank to send Klitschko down two times in the 11th before the referee called a stop to the fight to hand him the vacant WBA belt in addition to his IBF strap.

Anthony Joshua has laid down the gauntlet to Tyson Fury, telling his fellow heavyweight world champion to fight him if he wants to prove he is the best in the division.

The two Britons hold all four major belts between them - Joshua reclaiming the WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Andy Ruiz Jr. in a points win last December, two months before Fury became WBC champion by stopping Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.

Wilder exercised a rematch clause with Fury, meaning the two are set to meet for a third time later this year, but Joshua is seeking a unification bout with his compatriot.

Joshua, who was scheduled to face mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev before their clash was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, feels neither he nor the undefeated Fury can claim to be the heavyweight's best fighter until they meet in the ring.

"If you really want to say you're number one, come fight me. Let's get it on," Joshua told Sky Sports.

"I've got the rest of the belts, so it only makes sense.

"I'm the unified heavyweight champion of the world, he's the WBC champion. What it will prove, me and him fighting? There will be one dominant figure in the heavyweight division that will have all of the belts and become undisputed.

"Logically, to prove yourself as number one, I have to fight Tyson Fury. He has to fight Anthony Joshua."

Anthony Joshua believes WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was able to "expose" some of Deontay Wilder's weaknesses.

Fury took Wilder's WBC title with a seventh-round knockout in Las Vegas in February.

Joshua, who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts, felt his fellow Brit was able to take away the American's only weapon.

"We've seen in some of his fights, it's been difficult for him and then he lands his punch and he's been victorious, but I always believe that when you go to war, you can't have one weapon in your arsenal, which was his right hand," Joshua told Sky Sports.

"Once that was taken away from him, which Tyson Fury did, I'm not going to go into tactics, but he was able to annihilate Deontay Wilder and expose him for some of his weaknesses.

"Tyson Fury did a great job tactically and I'm looking forward to their rematch."

Joshua said he always felt Wilder would be beaten, with the defeat the first of his professional career.

"I believed Tyson Fury could potentially do what he done," he said.

"I just felt like, Deontay Wilder is a formidable ex-champion and has a chance to come back, but I just knew that when he gets to the top level, it will be difficult, because it's one thing getting there and it's another thing staying there."

Four years ago today, Anthony Joshua claimed a portion of the world heavyweight title for the first time.

Entering the O2 Arena to a hero's reception, Joshua's 16th fight as a professional pitted him against the undefeated but largely untested American Charles Martin.

As was the case throughout his early career, the 2012 Olympic champion got the job done in double-quick time, decking the rangy southpaw twice with crisp right hands in the second round to seal a TKO triumph and the IBF belt.

Since then, however, it has not always been plain sailing.

Here, we look back at AJ's record in world title fights since becoming champion.


Dominic Breazeale

Joshua did not waste much time in booking a first defence of his IBF strap and was back in the ring at the end of June 2016 to face another American.

Breazeale arrived with an unbeaten 17-fight record and was taller than the champion. He had fought at the 2012 Olympics as well, only his bid for gold ended in the preliminary round.

The Californian is nicknamed 'Trouble' but he failed to provide many issues for his opponent on the night. Joshua tenderised him for several rounds before a knockout arrived in the seventh. The beaten fighter earned plaudits for his bravery but was simply outclassed at the O2 Arena.


Eric Molina

Poor Molina was served up as the appetiser before the main event in December 2016. The Texan had pushed Wilder into the ninth round 18 months earlier, but was blown away inside three in Manchester.

Joshua scored a knockdown with a big right hand and while Molina beat the count, referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings soon after the resumption. Wladimir Klitschko watched on from close quarters before climbing into the ring to confirm he would face the reigning IBF champion next.

Molina, meanwhile, tested positive for a banned substance after the bout. He was handed a two-year ban in May 2018, though by then he had already had two outings since losing to Joshua.


Wladimir Klitschko

Klitschko was undoubtedly the biggest test of Joshua's career. The cynics suggested the Londoner had benefited from a soft schedule in the pros, but a meeting with the experienced Ukrainian in April 2017 looked anything but easy.

As well as the IBF strap, the vacant IBO and WBA titles were on the line in front of a full house at Wembley Stadium. The meeting of two fighters at contrasting stages of their careers did not disappoint either, serving up a see-saw contest that captivated the audience.

Joshua scored a knockdown in round five but was down himself in the next. However, Klitschko failed to capitalise on a rival apparently running on empty, allowing the home favourite to regroup and force a stunning stoppage in the 11th, with Klitschko downed again before being saved by referee David Fields.


Carlos Takam

Joshua was due to take on Kubrat Pulev in October 2017 in Cardiff, only for the IBF mandatory challenger to pull out through injury. In stepped Takam, a teak-tough replacement with a reputation for making life difficult for his foes.

He certainly left a mark on the Briton, an early clash of heads drawing blood from Joshua's nose, while Takam suffered a nasty cut in a fourth round that also saw him knocked down.

However, the substitute stuck around until he was eventually stopped midway through the 10th. Takam felt he could have carried on, but Joshua extended his record of wins inside the distance to 20 after a less-than-memorable outing.


Joseph Parker

The unification clash between two unbeaten heavyweights in their prime saw Joshua head back to the Welsh capital at the end of March 2018. In the opposite corner was Parker, a New Zealander based in Las Vegas who held the WBO title.

For the first time, Joshua was unable to get the job done inside the distance. His risk-free policy of staying out of range allowed him to put rounds in the bank, leading to a landslide verdict from the judges after a slow-burner that was more intriguing than entertaining.

Parker – returning after surgery on both elbows – was a tough nut to crack but barely threatened an upset. He achieved the honour of becoming the first boxer to take AJ 12 rounds, but left the ring minus his belt. For Joshua, it was a performance that demonstrated he is about far more than just raw power.

Alexander Povetkin

A showdown for the undisputed heavyweight crown against then-WBC king Deontay Wilder continued to prove elusive and, as the American knockout specialist began to make plans for an alternative path with Tyson Fury in situ, Joshua had dangerous Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin next on his agenda.

It was another Wembley extravaganza, although the fire show that greeted the champion to the ring mingled with damp September air and Joshua did not have it all his own way early on – Povetkin steadying the man 11 years his junior and bloodying his nose with a hook at close quarters.

Joshua, who had the final stages of his build-up compromised by a heavy cold, weathered the storm and the finish was spectacular when it arrived in round seven. A left hook, straight right combination sent Povetkin crashing to the floor and he duly crumpled under the follow-up barrage.

Andy Ruiz Jr

Joshua's dream American debut abruptly unravelled into the nightmare of being on the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history at New York's Madison Square Garden in June last year.

Ruiz was in as a late replacement for motor-mouthed drugs cheat Jarrell Miller and the Mexican's kindly demeanour and rotund physique did an excellent job of obscuring the danger that lay in his deceptively fast hands.

After a slow start, Joshua decked his foe with a left hook off the right uppercut but, as he looked to close the show, a chopping Ruiz right to the temple left him on bandy legs. The champion never regained his equilibrium and was hanging on after going down twice in a topsy-turvy third. Two more trips to the floor in round seven left the Briton looking battered, baffled and beaten.

Andy Ruiz Jr

With little hesitation, Joshua exercised his rematch clause and both men reconvened in the unusual surrounding of Saudi Arabia for a fight dubbed 'The Clash on the Dunes' last December.

Joshua came in lighter and more mobile, while Ruiz… didn't. Boxing, moving and working expertly off a sharp jab, the Briton banked rounds and it quickly became clear the champion's reign would be a brief one.

Margins of 119-109 and 118-110 twice on the judges' scorecards underlined a story of almost total domination.

Anthony Joshua has revealed he has lost a close friend to coronavirus.

The unified world heavyweight champion posted a video message of support and condolences to those suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.

"To the people who are suffering with coronavirus, I wish you a speedy recovery because it is no joke," he said via his official Twitter account.

"To the ones who have lost loved ones, I want to say keep your head up. You've got my love, blessings to you and your family and condolences.

"I've lost no one immediate to me but I've lost close ones from my boxing gym, a close friend, friends of friends. It gets serious when it starts coming closer to home. I want to send you my condolences and my love."

Joshua also expressed thanks to NHS workers and implored people to abide by social distancing and lockdown measures as stipulated by the UK government.

"I would love to be out there right now doing the most – on my dirt bikes, meeting up with my boys, sparring, going down the boxing gym," he said.

"But even a rebel like me is trying to follow some guidelines, trying to do the right thing.

"Really, it's just a message to say you've got my support. I'm with you through this. We're all doing the right thing."

Joshua is scheduled to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, although the bout increasingly appears vulnerable to postponement.

On Monday, the British Boxing Board of Control suspended all boxing events in the UK until the end of May, meaning the slated Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin and Oleksandr Usyk v Dereck Chisora fights were among those to be shelved.

The heavyweight fights between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin and Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora have been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whyte was due to step into the ring with Povetkin for an interim WBC heavyweight world title showdown at the Manchester Arena on May 2, but the fight will not go ahead.

The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) on Monday further extended its suspension of boxing events until the end of May, with the United Kingdom in lockdown.

Matchroom Boxing stated that the bout has been rescheduled for July 4, although that is subject to how long the ongoing crisis lasts for. 

Usyk was set to do battle with Chisora at The O2 in London on May 23, but that has also been called off and no new date has been agreed.

A BBBofC statement said: "The British Boxing Board of Control has further extended its suspension of boxing tournaments under its jurisdiction for the month of May.

"We will continue to follow the government and medical authorities' advice and keep the situation under review, and when possible explore all options available to find a way of lifting the suspension when conditions permit."

Katie Taylor's world title showdown with Amanda Serrano was due to be on the undercard for Whyte's battle with Povetkin.

 

 

 

Eddie Hearn believes Anthony Joshua would have "no problem" facing Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder in a December heavyweight unification fight a year on from his previous bout.

Joshua is due to put his world heavyweight titles on the line against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20.

Hearn, the Brit's promoter, knows that is unlikely to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, given there is no knowing when sport will resume and Spurs still have a Premier League season to finish.

Fury and Wilder were due to do battle for a third time in July, but the WBC champion's co-promoter, Bob Arum, said the trilogy fight could be put back to October.

Hearn does not feel Joshua would have an issue stepping straight into a titanic showdown in search of a sweep of the titles at the end of the year if there is a drastic change of plan.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Right now our plan is to fight Pulev in June or July then fight Fury or whoever holds the WBC belt at the time.

"If the Pulev fight can't take place we may end up seeing that fight [against Fury] happen later this year.

"It wouldn't be ideal for AJ boxing in December to have been out for a whole year going into a fight like that but I don't think he would have a problem with it."

Joshua won a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia last December to regain his WBA, IBF and WBO straps.

Oleksandr Usyk is keen to take on either Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury to end British dominance of the heavyweight division.

Fury completed a stunning seven-round demolition of knockout specialist Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas last month to collect the WBC title, while countryman Joshua holds the other three major heavyweight belts after avenging his defeat to Andy Ruiz with a comprehensive points win last December.

Usyk, who is like Fury undefeated and has a London 2012 gold medal in common with Joshua, cleaned out the cruiserweight division and has similar designs having stepped up to take on boxing's big men.

"I work hard on it," he told Sky Sports of his desire to hold all the heavyweight titles, with a scheduled May 23 bout against Dereck Chisora next on the agenda for the 33-year-old Ukrainian.

That fight, along with Joshua's IBF mandatory against Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20 could yet fall victim to coronavirus cancellations.

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn this week said the Pulev bout being shelved could lead to an immediate showdown with Fury.

Usyk, who is next in line with the WBO to challenge Joshua, is not overly concerned with such machinations.

"I want to fight both," the quicksilver southpaw replied when asked if he had a preference out of the two reigning champions.

"The last thing I think about is who will fight who. No predictions."

Usyk's step up to boxing's blue riband division has been checked by injury niggles, with a bicep problem delaying his heavyweight debut – a seventh-round stoppage of American journeyman Chazz Witherspoon that remains his only outing since knocking out Tony Bellew on a final cruiserweight assignment in November 2018.

"I need to stay active. I need to box," he added. "If your vocation is passive, it's not good. If you stay active, it's very good. This is my active vocation."

Dereck Chisora believes his heavyweight fight against Oleksandr Usyk is a chance to claim the Ukrainian's "golden ticket" to face Anthony Joshua.

Usyk is expected to share the ring with Joshua if he defeats Chisora, provided the IBF, WBA and WBO champion gets the better of challenger Kubrat Pulev, who he will face in June.

But Chisora wants to disrupt those plans and earn himself an all-British blockbuster clash against Joshua.

"He's got the golden ticket, so I want to take his golden ticket," Chisora said of Usyk as he promoted their May 23 bout at the O2 Arena.

"Basically, everything I'm going to do is for me to take what he has and make it mine.

"I believe the way he can win this fight is by him knocking me out, but that's not going to happen. I'm going to keep coming and keep coming.

"I'll be so excited for it, training hard, pushing my numbers, so we'll see how he goes, but I'm so chuffed about this fight."

Promoter Eddie Hearn insisted Joshua would have no issues taking on Chisora if his compatriot upsets the odds against the undefeated Usyk, who will be fighting at heavyweight for just the second time.

"Chisora and [manager] David Haye fancy this," Hearn said to Sky Sports. "They can blow up the division if they win.

"AJ and Chisora would fight. AJ is a massive admirer of Chisora. Growing up at Finchley, Chisora was a hero to AJ. But they will fight, no problem.

"It doesn't mean, if Chisora beats Usyk, he inherits the mandatory position. But he will become number one with the WBO and everybody will say, 'You deserve a shot at the world title'."

Chisora, 36, has enjoyed a late-career renaissance and won three straight fights after his entertaining defeat to Dillian Whyte in their rematch in December 2018.

Usyk, a winner over Chazz Witherspoon on his heavyweight debut in October, vowed not to take the veteran for granted with a big prize against Joshua up for grabs.

"He's a really big guy and he hits hard," said Usyk. 

"I will train hard and I will be in my best shape for this fight. I tell you once again, I love boxing very much, I love to box."

Eddie Hearn said he is negotiating a blockbuster heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, insisting "the undisputed fight must happen in 2020".

Joshua will put his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts on the line against challenger Kubrat Pulev on June 20, while WBC champion Fury is set to meet Deontay Wilder for a third bout in July.

Promoter Hearn is pushing for an all-British clash between Joshua and Fury in December.

"The great thing is that [Fury vs Wilder 3] is in July and we box in June," Hearn told Sky Sports News. "Now our intention, and conversations are ongoing, is to finalise the Fury vs Joshua fight for December of this year.

"There's no reason not to get that contracted now, subject to both guys winning in the summer."

"We had numerous conversations with Bob Arum at Top Rank over making Joshua vs Fury," said Hearn. "But we know that once Wilder exercised that rematch clause, that fight would be made. We understand Wilder wants to win his belt back.

"The proudness and ego of Wilder meant it was very unlikely. He's not stepping aside, he wants this rematch with Fury. The undisputed fight must happen in 2020."

"Joshua and Fury are certainly going to be boxing twice [or a] trilogy," Hearn added. "That's part of the deal that we are looking to do ASAP - a two-fight agreement with Fury and Arum at the end of this year then summer 2021.

"We must try and do that fight in the UK. Ask AJ and Fury where they would like it, and they would say the UK. We know there will be huge offers from around the world. Our priority is to try and make this fight in the UK.

"There will be two of these, maybe three, so certainly summer 2021 we'll get one in the UK. I would love to make the first one in the UK because we've got two British world champions who will fight for the undisputed title - this is never going to happen again. To do it in the UK would be very special."

Anthony Joshua vowed nothing will stop him from defending his world heavyweight titles when he fights Kubrat Pulev at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20.

It was confirmed on Monday that Joshua will put his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts on the line against 38-year-old Bulgarian Pulev in London.

Joshua lost his unbeaten record to Andy Ruiz Jr and then regained his straps by beating the Mexican since his last fight in his homeland against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley in September 2018.

A unification bout against Tyson Fury could be next if Joshua beats Pulev and his fellow Brit comes out on top in a trilogy with Deontay Wilder.

For the time being Joshua is relishing stepping into the ring for a first fight at the home of Premier League side Tottenham.

"On June 20, I am defending my heavyweight world titles. I'm back in my home city after some time away," he said.

"A spectacular stadium has been built in north London and I'm honoured to bring the boxing community from all over the world to witness us make history with the stadium's first heavyweight world title fight.

"The belts go back up in the air and nothing will stop me from being victorious."

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said: "I'm so excited to see Anthony Joshua return to the capital, 70,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is going to be very special.

"2019 was a crazy year that had everything - the only thing missing was a UK fight and, as we go into what I believe will be the biggest year of AJ's career so far, all our attention turns to Kubrat Pulev in an absolute must-win fight.

"Pulev is undefeated in six years and his team – and especially Bob Arum [Top Rank CEO] – really fancy this. I think you are going to see something special from AJ on June 20 - a destructive performance on the road to undisputed."

Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF world heavyweight title against Kubrat Pulev on June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Pulev, the IBF's mandatory challenger for the belt, announced on his Facebook page that the contracts for the fight had been signed, with Joshua also confirming the date on his social media accounts.

The Bulgarian had previously been scheduled to fight Joshua back in 2017 but suffered an injury, leading to Carlos Takam replacing him in a fight the Briton won in 10 rounds.

There had been talk of Joshua eschewing his defence against Pulev to fight Tyson Fury following his compatriot's stunning win over Deontay Wilder last month, which saw him claim the WBC title.

However, Wilder's decision to exercise his rematch clause means a third bout with the American will be Fury's immediate focus.

That fight is likely to take place in July, with Joshua's meeting with Pulev to be held a month earlier in London.

A post on Pulev's Facebook account read: "The contract between the two countries is now officially signed and the battle between the Bulgarian boxer, who is the mandatory challenger for the belt of the IBF, and the British is guaranteed!"

Pulev added: "I am happy to have the opportunity to show the world how strong I really am."

The 38-year-old fought Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF title back in November 2014, but suffered a fifth-round knockout in a one-sided contest.

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