Anthony Joshua, the unified heavyweight champion, will defend his title against Kubrat Pulev in early December, a date that will give the bout the best chance at fan attendance, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN.
Fight rescheduled from June to December
The fight was originally scheduled for June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is still to have it in London if regulations will allow.
Hearn told ESPN he had to find a way for Joshua, 30, to fight this year so he wouldn’t have such a long layoff.
“He must box this year, and obviously it's up to me to find a solution and a crowd,” Hearn said of Joshua. “But he also knows at the same time, he must fight because it will be a year in December since the Ruiz fight.
“He's still improving, he's still learning, and he's not prepared to just sit out and not fight.”
His last fight was a win against Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia last December. It was a rematch of a June 2019 loss.
Looking for big crowds in London
There is no date set yet, but Hearn is aiming for the first week in December for Anthony (23-1, 21 KOs) to fight. It had been previously rescheduled to July, but pushed again.
"We know AJ's only going to fight once this year, so we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to bring in a crowd, and that would obviously be the later the better," Hearn told ESPN. "But it's still not a gimme at all. There's still a very strong chance that AJ will have to fight behind closed doors."
Hearn said December gave them the “best chance to have a crowd” since Joshua will only fight once this year. The O2 Arena in London is the preferred venue, he said. Fan attendance will depend on government regulations.
Joshua is known to draw large gates. Hearn reportedly secured a site fee of around $40 million for Joshua’s rematch against Ruiz.
What about Joshua vs. Tyson Fury?
Joshua has the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles and there are plans for him to face Tyson Fury, the WBC champion. Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) is the IBF’s mandatory challenger and then they will see about fighting Tyson.
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