By Dan Rafael
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s mandatory defense against Kubrat Pulev will take place Sept. 6 at the O2 World arena in Hamburg, Germany, Klitschko’s K2 Promotions announced Thursday.
“Kubrat Pulev has an impressive record as an amateur and as well as professional. He has very good skills and I will definitely not underestimate him,” Klitschko said. “I am looking forward to boxing in Hamburg. Everybody knows I have a special relationship to this city and the atmosphere in the O2 World has always been unbelievable.”
Wladimir Klitschko will make his 17th title defense when he faces unbeaten Kubrat Pulev on Sept. 6.
Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs), 38, of Ukraine, who will be making his 17th title defense, will be boxing in Hamburg for the eighth time as a professional, including his pro debut in 1996 and his wipeout unanimous decision against David Haye in their 2011 title unification bout.
Klitschko’s 16 successful defenses during his second title reign are the third most in heavyweight history behind only Joe Louis (25) and Larry Holmes (20), and his eight-year-plus reign is second all-time to Louis’ record 11 years, 8 months, 8 days. Klitschko, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, moved to 23-2 overall in world title fights with a one-sided fifth-round knockout of Australia’s Alex Leapai, a mandatory challenger, on April 26 in Oberhausen, Germany.
Pulev (20-0, 11 KOs), 33, of Bulgaria, a former European champion, earned his mandatory challenger status in August 2013 with a unanimous decision against American Tony Thompson, who had twice been knocked out by Klitschko in mandatory title fights.
Since becoming the mandatory challenger, Pulev, known as “The Cobra,” has fought twice, scoring a fourth-round knockout of Joey Abell, who knocked him down, in December followed by a third-round knockout of Ivica Perkovic on April 5.
“I will get the titles. I am ready to replace Wladimir Klitschko as the world champion,” Pulev said. “This fight is the highlight of my career. I will show the fans worldwide that Klitschko is no invincible machine and fulfill my dream. I have worked hard for this chance.”
K2 Promotions on Tuesday won the purse bid to gain promotional control of the fight, offering $7,250,131 to easily top the only other, which was $5,290,144 by Sauerland Event, Pulev’s promoter. As champion, Klitschko is entitled at 80 percent of the winning bid ($5,800,105) and Pulev is entitled to the remaining 20 percent (a career-high $1,450,026).