Title, not big money payday is prize Pulev seeks

Kubrat Pulev pulled out of his bout with Anthony Joshua. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2017
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Title, not big money payday is prize Pulev seeks

SOFIA: Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev has no regrets about pulling out of his fight against world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua due to a shoulder injury and says he has not given up hope of fighting the Briton.
Joshua, undefeated in 19 fights since turning professional in 2013, will now defend his IBF world title against Frenchman Carlos Takam in Cardiff on Oct. 28 in his first bout since defeating Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA title in April.
Pulev said the chance to win the title was more important to him than the money on offer and he had decided to wait for another chance.
“It wasn’t easy for me to make that decision,” the 36-year-old said. “I know, in my place, almost everyone would choose to get into the ring in Cardiff, despite everything, and collect a few million.” 
Pulev, one of Bulgaria’s most popular sportsmen, was confident he had the weapons to dethrone Joshua.
“I can beat Joshua but I can’t beat him if I’m injured,” he said.
Pulev turned professional at 28 in September 2009, less than a year after winning the European amateur boxing title in Liverpool.
Known as The Cobra, he has held the European heavyweight title twice and challenged for the unified world heavyweight title in 2014, losing to Klitschko in Hamburg on a fifth-round knockout.
Pulev could be in for a long wait for a shot at Joshua, who is being lined up to face Cuban Luis Ortiz, the mandatory challenger for his WBA title, after the Takam fight.
Meanwhile, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn warned fans of the boxer that it would be tough for 28-year-old to adjust for the bout in Cardiff — his fourth defence of the IBF crown — as Takam is a very different fighter to Pulev.
“It’s a difficult position for AJ having prepared meticulously for the style and height of Pulev, he now faces a completely different style and challenge in Takam,” Heran said.
“This hasn't happened in his career before but he is ready for all comers on October 28.”


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”