Kubrat Pulev vs. Kevin Johnson
Hometown favorite Pulev (24-1, 13 KOs) will make the first defense of the World Boxing Association (WBA) Inter-Continental heavyweight title he captured this past December. WBA No. 9 rated Pulev can position himself for another world title shot against the winner of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, who handed Pulev his only pro loss in their 2014 International Boxing Federation (IBF) title fight.
"Kevin Johnson is a good boxer who will give everything but he will not succeed," Pulev said at today's press conference. "My goal is to become World Champion. I know a loss will set me back a long way, but I'm confident in my abilities. My opponent is an experienced fighter who will be difficult to breakdown, but I've prepared for that. On Friday, I want to pit on another great show for the Bulgarian people and then, I want my shot at the world title."
Johnson (30-7-1, 14 KOs), fighting out of Lawrenceville, Georgia, has fought reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua - the only fighter to stop Johnson - former unified world heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury, former world title challenger Manuel Charr and current European champion Christian Hammer. In 2009, Johnson lost his lone world title fight by unanimous decision to undefeated WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, extending him the full 12-rounds.
"If Pulev thinks he's in for an easy night," Johnson commented, "he's got another thing coming. I'm not Samuel Peter. I'm not here to lie down and collect a check. I'm here to cause an upset. I'm going to take this boy to school and show the Bulgarians what a Jersey boy can do. I'm going to give him an ass whopping on Friday, the likes of which nobody has seen before. We've both been through the same obstacles and we've both fought for the world titles before, but only one of us is going to get that second shot, and that's going to be me.
"The woman here are very beautiful and I'm looking to get married. On Saturday, I'm going to be leaving with a new belt and new wife!"
It's a great weekend for heavyweight boxing," promoter Nisse Sauerland added. "Kubrat is the mandatory challenger to face the winner of Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF World title. Either they fight him or they vacate the belt. He's fought hard to get back into this position and he's risking it all in this fight against a rejuvenated Kevin Johnson. Kevin also knows what's at stake and what a win would mean for his career. Both men have been training hard and are ready to give it their all in the ring Friday night."
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