The heavyweight boxer who forcibly kissed a female reporter on the lips during an on-camera interview can return to the ring, the California State Athletic Commission decided Monday.
Kubrat Pulev was suspended in March for grabbing Jennifer Ravalo’s face and planting the surprise smooch during their interview after his technical knockout of fellow boxer Bogdan Dinu in Costa Mesa.
Ravalo, a contributor to Vegas Sports Daily, attended the commission hearing Monday and said she was frustrated by the unanimous decision to lift Pulev’s six-month suspension after he attended a sexual harassment training course and paid a $2,500 fine.
“It’s disappointing he didn’t do the full six months. I don’t know if he’s really sorry. I won’t know until I see how he acts,” Ravalo told the Daily News in a phone interview.
“I was surprised and shocked when it happened,” she said of the attack. “He grabbed my face, kissed me, and then as I was leaving, he grabbed my butt. He and his friends started laughing. I was embarrassed and humiliated.”
Pulev, whose nickname is The Cobra, is now free to reapply for his license, but any future offenses will result in a lifetime ban from fighting in North America, the commission said.
Before Monday’s vote, a commissioner told Pulev to “continue to learn from this please, sir, and talk about it to others. We could use your help on that.”
Ravalo’s lawyer Gloria Allred addressed the board shortly before the vote and said victims such as her client should be invited to attend events where boxers demonstrate their “rehabilitation” before reinstatement.
She said Ravalo was given no advance notice that Pulev would be taking part in a Women in Journalism panel at UNLV earlier this month after attending a sensitivity training seminar at the university.
Allred said victims of such harassment deserve the chance to offer “input into the process of educating the perpetrator.”
In a July 10 Twitter post, Pulev said he knew the kiss was a “mistake.”
“I did it because I was happy and very excited. But this is not an excuse for what I did,” he said in the tweet that pulled his quotes from a story about the UNLV panel in the Las Vegas Sun.
The Bulgarian boxer was recently ranked as the No. 8 heavyweight in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Ravalo said Monday she hopes Pulev apologizes for his actions in a venue where he’s not actively trying to lobby commissioners for reinstatement.
She and Allred said they were distressed when Pulev’s promoter Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank Boxing in Las Vegas, spoke disparagingly about her last month.
In an interview on iFL TV posted June 15 on YouTube, Arum claimed Ravalo was “fooling around” with Pulev while he was still training for the fight that led up to the kiss incident.
Allred called the statement “blatantly false,” pointing the fact both Pulev and Ravalo testified before the commission on May 14 that they first met each other at the weigh-in the day prior to the Dinu fight.
Arum also told iFL TV it was “totally crazy” Pulev was ordered to take a course on sexual harassment.
“(He) did nothing wrong,” Arum claimed. “That wasn’t sexual harassment.”
Arum expressed astonishment he was ordered to stop “slut shaming” Ravalo.
“I would like to see (Pulev) disavow Mr. Arum’s statements,” Allred told The News on Monday.
“I’m also very concerned that Mr. Arum represents more than 100 fighters. What are they learning from his statements? Are they going to feel free to grab female reporters and kiss them on the lips because their boss doesn’t think it’s sexual harassment?” she asked.
“I would like to see him brought before the commission to defend his statements,” Allred said Monday. “I think they’re indefensible.”
Arum did not immediately respond to a request for comment left at his office regarding Allred’s statements.
In a prepared statement emailed to The News, Arum praised the license reinstatement.
“I’m glad to see that the California State Athletic Commission has now lifted the suspension of Kubrat Pulev, and we can get on with advancing his career. He intends to take some major fights by the end of this year,” the statement said.