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Anthony Joshua likely to face Kubrat Pulev

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Anthony Joshua likely will face Kubrat Pulev, one of his mandatory challengers, after a deadline to make a deal was extended.

According to EPSN, the IBF, which ranks Pulev as No. 1 contender, has given Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and Pulev co-promoters Top Rank and Epic Sports an extension of what was originally a Jan. 11 deadline. They now have until Jan. 31 to make a deal before it would call for a purse bid.

John Wirt of Epic Sports told ESPN on Monday that negotiations slowed during the holidays but they are now getting close, which is why they asked the IBF to extend the deadline for a purse bid.

Anthony Joshua to face Kubrat Pulev

After telling IBF president Daryl Peoples they were “making huge progress,” the deadline extension was OK’d.

“We are very close in my opinion, but the real issue is everyone’s trying to vet offers [from sites] that are coming in from all over,” Wirt said. “The only continents not in play to my knowledge are Antarctica and Australia.”

If the sides do not make a deal the IBF will schedule a purse bid to determine the promotional rights, though the camps can continue to negotiate until 15 minutes before the bids would be unsealed. Joshua would get 65 percent of the winning bid and Pulev would get 35 percent. Any bid would likely be worth tens of millions of dollars.