Wladimir Klitschko has been ordered to face Kubrat Pulev in his next heavyweight examination, as confirmed by boxing promoters Kalle and Nisse Sauerland:
Pulev emerges as the mandatory challenger to Klitschko's IBF title, although news surrounding the bout's date, location and details are yet to become apparent.
It has been a decade since Klitschko suffered the latest of his three professional losses. Lamon Brewster was his last conqueror in April 2004, but during the 10 years since, Dr. Steelhammer has asserted his dominance across the boxing spectrum with 20 consecutive wins, per BoxRec.
Klitschko's latest victim came in the form of Alex Leapai, who offered little resistance during last month's clash in Germany. The Australian optimised the type of opponent that many have belittled Klitschko for taking in the past, his height and reach disadvantage amounting to little challenge for the man who regularly jabs his way toward victory.
British duo Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury are amongst those who believe Klitschko has often taken the easy route. While the champion has no say in facing Pulev, he remains an opponent Chisora wishes to "force the issue with," according to Gareth A. Davies of The Telegraph.
Fury believes Klitschko will "vacate or retire" before opting to face him, reported by Andrew Elliott of the Express. Fury, who stands roughly three inches taller than the Ukrainian star, certainly has the physical attributes to enforce a change of strategy.
Who will win this fight?
Despite Pulev's unbeaten professional record currently standing at 20-0-0, per BoxRec, he faces the challenge of his life when trying to end Klitschko's dominance. Like many before him, a previously unblemished record means nothing when stepping into the ring with arguably the second-best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.
Although the Bulgarian stands in at 6'4.5", his game plan will need to be spotless if he is to overcome a tried and tested Klitschko formula. The Cobra has toppled lengthy odds before, becoming the first man to defeat Alexander Ustinov in 2012 despite the Belarusian's three-inch height advantage. Considering Klitschko possesses a similar frame, some may hope Pulev is the man to halt his era of success.
Ultimately, Klitschko's power often appears insurmountable when he gets into rhythm. Pulev will need to produce the greatest performance of his career to get anywhere close to beating a brawler whose momentum continues to show no sign of slowing.