BERLIN - Undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has been ordered to defend his International Boxing Federation title against unbeaten Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, according to the latter's promoter.
Klitschko defended his titles — which include the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation belts as well as the IBF strap — two weeks ago against Australian Alex Leapai, whom he stopped in the fifth round.
That was a mandatory WBO defence and now the IBF have declared 33-year-old Pulev as their mandatory challenger.
"That's what I call a late birthday gift," said Pulev, who celebrated his 33rd birthday last Sunday.
"I was ringside when Wladimir defended his belts a few weeks ago. It was a walk in the park for him against Leapai.
"When Klitschko meets me inside the ring, I will cause him real problems to say the least."
Pulev's promoter Kalle Sauerland said discussions had already been set in motion.
"We are excited to present a heavyweight bout in cooperation with K2 (Klitschko's promoter), which is deserving of its 'Heavyweight World Championship' status," said Sauerland.
Pulez, who has 20 wins from as many fights with 11 of those coming inside the distance, is widely regarded as the best of the rest beside Klitschko in the heavyweight division.
The world amateur super-heavyweight bronze medallist from 2005 beat twice world title challenger and Klitschko victim Tony Thompson on points in August last year, having stopped a couple of strapping and promising eastern Europeans in Alexander Ustinov and Alexander Dimitrenko before that.
No date has been set for the clash but it may not necessarily happen as Klitschko's next bout.
After beating Leapai, Klitschko, 38, with 62 wins, 52 KOs and just three defeats in his 65-fight career, said he wanted to unify all the titles.
His brother Vitali was holding the World Boxing Council belt until announcing his retirement recently to concentrate on politics in Ukraine.
Haiti-born Canadian Bermane Stiverne and American Chris Arreola will contest that vacant belt on Saturday.
"It's my dream to unify the four titles. I've never had the WBC belt," said Klitschko after beating Leapai.
While Leapai was seen as little more than a punching bag for Klitschko, Pulev has a burgeoning reputation and is seen as a genuine threat, although the last such, Russian Alexander Povetkin, was sent to the canvas four times in a shut-out points victory in October.