A female reporter forcibly kissed by a Bulgarian boxer during a taped interview in Costa Mesa called for state athletics officials to suspend the fighter's boxing license Thursday as she told reporters he also grabbed her butt.
The interview was conducted after heavyweight champion Kubrat Pulev knocked out Romanian boxer Bogdan Dinu at the Orange County Convention Center last Saturday night. He can be seen answering questions from Vegas Sports Daily reporter Jennifer Ravalo before he suddenly grabs her face and lunges forward with a forced kiss.
He has since denied any wrongdoing, saying he was just "elated" after his victory and claiming he and Ravalo are "friends" — which she denies and says would still not justify his actions.
Appearing alongside attorney Gloria Allred on Thursday, Ravalo called for an investigation by the California State Athletics Commission and suspension of Pulev's license until the commission's next meeting on May 14 in Los Angeles. Allred said both she and Ravalo are willing to testify before state officials.
During the interview, Ravalo can be seen asking Pulev about his winning match before posing a question about his future fighting plans.
"So if Tyson Fury gets through Tom Schwartz, do you think you should have a shot?" she asks.
Pulev replies "yes" before grabbing Ravalo's face and planting a kiss on her lips.
"I was immediately shocked and embarrassed, and I did not know how to respond," Ravalo told reporters.
But she said the unwanted advances didn't end there, alleging Pulev assaulted her again as she went to put her belongings inside a backpack after the interview.
"He grabbed both of my buttocks and squeezed with both of his hands. Then he walked away without saying anything to me and laughed," she said.
The whole encounter left her feeling "uncomfortable and frustrated," she said.
"I did not encourage or consent to Kubrat Pulev grabbing my face, kissing me or grabbing my backside," she said.
Allred said she has emailed a letter calling for Pulev's suspension to Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletics Commission, in hopes the disciplinary action could set a precedent for other boxers showing such assaults are neither appropriate nor legal.
"It’s degrading to her. It’s not treating her as a reporter doing her job — but just as someone he can decide whatever he wants to do with whenever he wants to do it," Allred said.
Meanwhile, Ravalo dismissed Pulev's claims the two are "friends," saying she only met him the day before for another interview. She also said he asked her to remove the kiss from the interview when they ran into each other at an after-party later that night. She refused.
"I didn’t want him to get away with it. What he did to me was disgusting. I felt humiliated," she said. "No woman should be treated this way."
A statement issued by Pulev on Monday describes the incident as "the most commented kiss in the world!" and says he kissed her because he was "elated" after winning a match.
"There really is nothing more to this," he writes.
Pulev has never apologized for the incident but Allred said she and her client are not looking for an apology, just "consequences" such as a license suspension or fines.
"He has not provided any defense" except to say they're friends, Allred said. "Which is not a defense, even if it were true."
Before Thursday, Ravalo had largely remained silent on the incident as video of the interview went viral, only describing it as "embarrassing" and "strange" in a reply to another journalist and agreeing with someone who described a past tweet of hers as awkward. That tweet shows a male boxer punching down another male boxer when he kisses him on the lips.
"I never had this happen to me before and I never want it to happen again," Ravalo said. "A man should ask a woman before he kisses her."