By Dean Berman: IBF heavyweight mandatory Kubrat Pulev has a stay busy fight in the works against 37-year-old journeyman Mark De Mori on November 9 on ESPN+, according to ESPN. The fight still isn’t official, but it’s looking good that the 38-year-old former world title challenger Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs) will be facing De Mori next. That’s a safe fight for Pulev.

The popular Bulgarian Pulev is the mandatory to face the winner of the December 7th rematch between IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and former unified champ Anthony Joshua. The Bulgarian Pulev’s November 9 fight will be on ESPN+ at Chukchansi Park, in Fresno, California. He’s fighting on the undercard of Jamel Herring vs. Lamont Roach.

Pulev taking tune-up to prepare for Joshua-Ruiz winner

Having earned the IBF mandatory spot with a wide 12 round decision win over Hughie Fury last October, Pulev will be staying in position for his title shot against the Joshua-Ruiz winner. Pulev is being criticized for his potential fight against De Mori, but one can’t expect him to take a risky fight against a quality heavyweight. There’s a lot of money at stake for Pulev with the title shot against the Joshua vs. Ruiz winner. Pulev already missed out on a crack at a world title against Joshua in 2017 when he suffered an arm injury that forced him to pull out of the fight.

Carlos Takam was brought in as a last minute replacement, and AJ beat him by a 10th round knockout in October 2017. Pulev would have made millions in the Joshua title shot. He showed class by not fighting injured, because he could have done that just for the payday. Pulev wanted to win, and not just get a payday.

De Mori has seven-fight winning streak

Mark De Mori has faced one high level opponent during his 15-year professional career in battling David Haye in 2016. It didn’t work out too well for De Mori, as Haye stopped him in the 1st round in London, England. Since that loss, De Mori has won seven consecutive fights against low level opposition. Most of the names are unrecognizable to casual and even the hardcore boxing fans. De Mori is not someone that is capable of mixing it with the elite in the heavyweight division.

In De Mori’s fight against Haye, he was completely over-matched, and quickly destroyed. The skill difference between the two was embarrassingly bad. De Mori fought like an amateur, and not a good one. Even though Haye was completely shot by this point in his career, he had little problems.

Pulev can’t afford to blow his title shot

With a massive payday staring him in the face, Pulev can’t afford to lose. He’s only lost once in his career in a 5th round blowout loss to IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014. Pulev was hopelessly over-matched against the bigger, stronger, faster and more powerful Klitschko. Wladimir, who was nearing the end of his career, knocked Pulev down repeatedly with left hooks.

Pulev was walking into the shots instead of staying on the outside, and using his powerful jab to box Wladimir. Since that loss, Pulev has won his last seven fights. However, the only quality opponent Pulev has faced during the last four years was Dereck Chisora, who he beat by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in May 2016. In Pulev’s last fight, he defeated Bogdan Dinu by a 7th round knockout last March in Bulgaria.

Pulev needs to impress against De Mori

With Pulev taking on another lesser fighter in De Mori, he needs to look good to get the boxing world to take him seriously as a challenger for the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch. Right now, there are few fans that are excited about the prospects of Pulev fighting the Joshua-Ruiz winner. Fans want to see WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury challenge the winner of that fight rather than Pulev, who hasn’t kept himself relevant due to the soft match-making that’s been done for him by his management.