Kubrat Pulev has warned a historic fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will not happen after he lands a shock win on Saturday.
Bulgaria’s Pulev, 39, challenges Joshua for the WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight titles at Wembley Arena.
Joshua knows a win could lead to him facing WBC champion Fury, a bout that would see all four heavyweight titles contested for the first time.
“We see a lot of mistakes from Anthony,” said Pulev.
“I think these mistakes, and the bad sides, stay. The most important thing is how I perform on Saturday night. When I am good, I beat him well. Right now I feel very good, strong and powerful.
“This fight is not only for me. This fight isn’t just for boxing. It is for all of Bulgaria. Nobody from my country has ever been heavyweight champion of the world.
“I think after this fight I’m going to fight with Tyson Fury. I don’t believe that the Joshua vs Fury fight is going to happen because I will win on Saturday night. I think the world needs a new world champion like me. I am the new world champion.”
Pulev’s only defeat in 29 fights came in 2014, when he was knocked out by then world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
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Saturday’s bout – which will take place in front of 1,000 fans – will be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live and Joshua starts a 1-10 betting favourite.
Joshua’s only defeat in 24 outings arrived in June of 2019 before he avenged the result against Andy Ruiz Jr six months later.
There are parallels with his first bout against Ruiz as at the time all talk focused on him winning and going on to face Deontay Wilder, while now all eyes are on him meeting Fury if he overcomes Pulev.
BBC Radio 5 Live boxing analyst Steve Bunce said: “In 2019 we had two different Joshuas. The reckless, fearless Joshua who believed in his own invincibility. He got in the ring in Madison Square Garden, he looked at Ruiz and found himself on the floor four times.
“Fast forward six months in Saudi Arabia, Ruiz gets in the ring and doesn’t do a thing but Joshua does. Too much was made that Ruiz was poor. Not enough was made about Joshua’s adjustments – sensible boxing, not taking risks. What do we get against Pulev? The fearless, reckless Joshua? Or the sensible boxer? I am not sure.”
BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello added: “I think we will get an evolving Joshua, one who fights his fight. One who is learning to be able to adapt to the circumstances. I think in the first fight against Ruiz he fought our fight and the fans’ fight. He has learned a very brutal, painful lesson from that night.
“I think he will have prepared for Pulev in a different way. Ready to adapt on the night if necessary but with a very secure game plan. A plan from him and his team where he is not influenced from what us on the outside are saying.
“It’s a night where you can lose two fights in one because of all these hopes we have for next year with Joshua and Fury.”