Heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev will aim for his fifth victory in a row since he lost a world title fight when he takes on American Kevin Johnson on April 28 at the Arena Armeec in Sofia, Bulgaria, promoter Team Sauerland announced on Tuesday.
Pulev, who is from Bulgaria, had never fought in his home country until his last outing, when he drew some 15,000 fans to the Arena Armeec for a fourth-round knockout victory against faded former world titleholder Samuel Peter in December.
"We have promoted shows all over the world, and I must say, the atmosphere in Sofia was second to none," promoter Kalle Sauerland said. "The support that Kubrat receives from the Bulgarian people is special, and this will help him to reach the top. He faces a tough test against Kevin Johnson, who having fought many of the biggest names in the heavyweight division, has only been stopped once."
Now Pulev (24-1, 13 KOs) will fight at home for the second consecutive fight.
"It was an overwhelming experience for me to receive so much support from the crowd," Pulev said of the December fight. "I could feel the energy surging around the arena, and that gave me the power to win by stoppage. My No. 1 goal is to fight for the world title, and on April 28, I will take another step towards achieving this goal. I'm already training hard to prove I am worthy to fight again for the heavyweight crown."
In November 2014, Pulev, 35, got a mandatory shot at then-heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko but suffered his lone defeat when he was on the wrong end of a brutal fifth-round knockout, which was the knockout of the year.
The 37-year-old Johnson (30-7-1, 14 KOs), of Asbury Park, New Jersey, fought for a world title in 2009 but lost a near shutout decision to then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir's older brother.
Johnson has been a journeyman opponent since and is just 2-6 in his past eight bouts, though he has been knocked out only once in his career. That was a second-round stoppage to England's Anthony Joshua before Joshua won his world title.
"Johnson is a tough opponent. You must only look at his résumé to tell this will be a real challenge," Pulev said. "He has shared the ring with many world-class fighters like Vitali Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. I know I will need to be at my best to beat him, but with the help of my coach, Ulli Wegner, and the support of the Bulgarian people, I'm confident my hand will be raised, and we will be able to celebrate another great night for Bulgarian boxing and another step towards me fulfilling my dream of becoming the heavyweight champion of the world."