On Saturday night, Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev stopped Romanian Bogdan Dinu in seven rounds in Costa Mesa, California, after which he was interviewed by Vegas Sports Daily reporter Jenny Sushe.
“If Tyson Fury gets through Tom Schwarz, do you think you should have a shot?” Sushe asked.
Considering Fury’s fight against Schwarz had just been announced and that Pulev had just improved his record to 27-1, the question appeared perfectly pertinent and reasonable.
Pulev did not answer it, preferring instead to plant a big kiss on Sushe’s lips, in a very awkward exchange. The reporter was clearly embarrassed after the incident but did her best to remain composed and laughed off the exchange with remarkable poise.
Pulev, however, did not escape criticism on social media, where his behavior was likened to sexual assault.
“This is not ‘Alpha as f***’, it’s called sexual assault,” boxing presenter Chris Lloyd tweeted in response to a clip of the incident that seemingly glorified Pulev’s gesture. “This woman responds in the way too many women have to when they’re afraid of men, it’s called de-escalation. Any men that think this is acceptable behaviour, educate yourself. It isn’t. Ever.”
Lloyd was not alone in his criticism of Pulev, who has been in a relationship with Bulgarian pop-folk singer Andrea since 2007. A number of Twitter users suggested the Bulgarian’s conduct was in fact alike to sexual assault and condemned those who tried to laugh the incident off.
Creepy interview aside, Pulev strengthened his position as the number one contender to face the IBF and unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
The 37-year-old Bulgarian is in pole position to be one of the mandatory challengers to Britain’s Joshua, whom he was scheduled to fight in October 2017. Pulev pulled out of the bout because of an injury and has been steadily working his way back towards a world title fight ever since.
“We’re going to help make that fight happen, but we signed him because we can show the public a decent foreign fighter in a competitive heavyweight match,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who represents Pulev, told ESPN. “How well it’s received depends on how he performs, but he’s not going to sit.”
While Pulev’s next opponent is yet to be announced, Joshua will defend his belts against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.