IBF No. 1 heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev returns to the ring to face Rydell Booker in a 10-round clash Saturday, November 9 at Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno, California.
Pulev-Booker will serve as the co-feature to the Jamel Herring-Lamont Roach Jr. WBO junior lightweight world title bout and both fights will live stream on ESPN starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
“Kubrat Pulev is ready to fight for a heavyweight title today, but he has one final test before that can become a reality,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He is motivated to knock out Booker and get ready for his title shot in early 2020.”
“This fight with Rydell Booker is very important because of what’s at stake,” Pulev said. “Everything is on the line. I am the top contender in the heavyweight division, and I am the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua rematch. I want the winner. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
"It’s a big deal for me. This is a chance for me to show everyone that I still have it,” Booker said. “I haven’t missed a beat. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in camp with Oleksandr Usyk for six weeks before I got the fight. The numbers made sense, so I jumped at the opportunity.”
Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs), one of Bulgaria’s most prominent sporting figures, has won seven fights in a row since challenging Wladimir Klitschko in a failed bid for the unified heavyweight title in November 2014. He earned the IBF No. 1 ranking last October with a unanimous decision over Hughie Fury in his hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria.
Pulev maintained his ranking with a seventh-round knockout over Bogdan Dinu in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN telecast March 23 in Costa Mesa, California. He faces Booker (26-2, 13 KOs), a 38-year-old Detroit native who is 4-1 since returning in February 2018 from serving a 12-year prison term for a drug conviction. A cruiserweight contender in the early 2000s, Booker now hopes a return to boxing can help him outside of the ring as well.
In other undercard action:
Middleweight sensation Janibek Alimkhanuly (7-0, 3 KOs) hopes to bring his brand of “Qazaq Style” to Fresno when he defends his WBC Continental Americas and WBO Global belts against former NABO and Canadian middleweight champion Albert Onolunose (24-2-1, 8 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Alimkhanuly is trained by Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt and has knocked out two of his last three foes.
Longtime middleweight contender and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao (24-0, 16 KOs) will continue his march up the rankings in a 10-rounder against Manny Woods (16-8-1, 6 KOs). Falcao was the first Brazilian boxer to reach an Olympic final and is ranked No. 7 by the IBF and No. 6 by the WBC.
The pride of Stockton, California, Gabriel Flores Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs), will see his hometown fans head south to watch him face Aelio Mesquita (19-4, 17 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight fight. The 19-year-old Flores packed more than 10,000 fans into the Stockton Arena back in May and is perhaps the sport’s top ticket-selling prospect.
Former world title challenger Amir Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) will make his long-awaited ring return versus Marcos Mojica (16-4-2, 12 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight fight. Imam, who recently signed with Top Rank, hasn’t fought since a March 2018 decision loss to Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title.
Robeisy Ramirez (0-1), a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, will look to rebound from a shocking defeat in his professional debut against Fernando Ibarra De Anda (2-1, 0 KOs) in a six-rounder at featherweight.
David Kaminsky (5-0, 2 KOs), the 19-year-old Israeli-born middleweight prospect, will face an opponent to be named in a six-rounder.