Kubrat Pulev Heavyweight Hero in Bulgaria
by Johnny Walker
Bulgarian bad boy and European heavyweight champion Kubrat Pulev got a hero's reception back home yesterday after easily disposing of the previously unbeaten Russian giant Alexander Ustinov on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany.
With the win, the Bulgarian moved into the the number one contender's spot in the IBF for a shot a world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
After his victory, the man known as "The Cobra" was met at the airport in Sofia, Bulgaria, by fans, a gypsy band, his brother Tervel and his stunning girlfriend Andrea, a major pop star in Bulgaria.
Even the Bulgarian government got into the act, as Bulgaria's Sports Minister Svilen Neykov offered his services to help Pulev arrange a future fight with world champion Wladimir Klitschko in Sofia's Armeec Arena.
"We have the potential to organize a Kubrat fight and fill Arena Armeec," said Neykov.
"[Pulev] is sure to clash with Klitschko for one or two bouts .... one can be in Sofia. This will be a great event, and will make us all proud," said Neykov.
"I watched the [Ustinov] fight, and congratulations to Kubrat, because he is the pride of Bulgaria."
The fighter himself also sounded a patriotic note as he arrived back home from the Ustinov fight, reunited with a jubilant Andrea and signed autographs for fans.
"This win was for Bulgaria," said Pulev.
"I was looking to draw attention to the Bulgarians in the [Hamburg] audience – there were people from London, Berlin.
"We paid attention to them – they were very noisy, very strong and supported me constantly. This was a great support for me," continued the Cobra.
With consecutive wins over heavyweight giants Ustinov (6'8″) and Alexander Dimitrenko (6'7″), Pulev–whose brother Tervel, also a heavyweight pugilist, recently turned pro–now resides in the upper echelons of the heavyweight division.
Having proven he has what it takes to handle fighters much larger than himself, an eventual meeting with world champion Wladimir Klitschko, which Pulev sees happening within the next year, seems inevitable. Pulev says he has no intention of pulling the old "not ready yet" excuse heard too often lately when his turn to fight for the world titles appears.
"This is the pinnacle of my career so far, but I think I can achieve more," Pulev opined.
"Now I'm going to rest in Bulgaria, then perhaps I will have one more fight before the coming battle with Wladimir Klitschko. Now he can not run and maneuver [any longer]."
"So we reached the top of my career [on Saturday], but it does not stop there."