Kubrat Pulev was forced to withdraw from his slated Oct. 28 heavyweight world title bout after he suffered a torn muscle in his right shoulder, which extended to his chest area. However, he could get another shot at a world title in 2018, but it may not be against Anthony Joshua.
Bobby Hitz, the President of Hitz Boxing, informed FightNights.com that he is in discussions to bring the WBA “Regular” heavyweight title fight to Chicago for the first time in over half a century, pitting Pulev against Fres Oquendo.
The last time the WBA belt was up for grabs in Chicago was when the late Ernie Terrell defeated Eddie Machen by a 15-round unanimous decision to claim the vacant title in 1965.
“I am not a doctor, but if this fight comes to fruition; it’s not going to be until early 2018, so that’s plenty of time [for Pulev] to recuperate [from his injuries]. We’re working on it now,” Hitz told FightNights.com.
“That would be our hope [to stage the fight in Chicago]. It’s been my goal since I started to make a local kid a world champion and I’ve come close a few times, but this could be a great opportunity for us. Everything happens for a reason.”
Pulev (25-1, 13 KO’s), 36, of Bulgaria, suffered his only defeat when he was knocked out by then-unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko in what turned out to be the 2014 knockout of the year.
He could have fought Joshua hurt and walked away with a seven-figure sum for the bout, but Pulev wisely dropped out of the fight and hopes he will get a second chance at Joshua in 2018.
Oquendo (37-8, 24 KO’s), 44, a Puerto Rico native fighting out of Chicago, has not fought in over three years since losing a controversial majority decision for the vacant WBA heavyweight world title to Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia in July 2014, and undergoing shoulder surgery in November 2015.
Oquendo sued Chagaev in U.S. federal court after the Russian’s team attempted to set up another title defense, a violation of their rematch clause. Oquendo won the case, and Chagaev was eventually stripped of the belt for failing to pay delinquent sanctioning fees, but the WBA still owes Oquendo a title bout. But, it’s been quite the roller coaster just to get inside the ring.
Oquendo was expected to fight former world champion Lucas Browne in 2016, but the Australian tested positive for banned substances, his second such failure of the year. He was also due to meet former titlist Shannon Briggs on June 3, but Briggs also bombed a drug test for dramatically increased levels of testosterone.
Oquendo has been at the receiving end of criticism for his inactivity, but as exemplified, it’s not his doing, and Hitz wants to set the record straight.
“What they [the fans] don’t understand is when you’re in the position of fighting for the championship, you have to remain available,” Hitz stated. “The minute you take a fight, that makes you unavailable.
“He hasn’t fought in three years, and there’s a reason for that because you have this whole process. It takes forever,” he added. “And, during the process, you cannot have a fight.”