World Heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, will ‘definitely’ fight Kubrat Pulev this year despite the new restrictions on spectators that were introduced on Friday, though, the latest developments have increased the likelihood of the bout taking place overseas.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, confirmed earlier this week that the fight had been moved to December in line with projections of bigger crowds being permitted to sporting events in this country.
But, in the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Friday that fans will no longer be allowed to attend pilot events this weekend, amid a rise in Covid cases, Hearn has indicated they could be forced to change Joshua’s plans.
While he guaranteed WBA, IBF and WBO champion would still be fighting, and that their preference is a location in Britain, it is increasingly likely to be behind closed doors or even abroad.
Hearn, whose £5million Matchroom Fight Camp project will stage its first quarantined card on Saturday, said: “There’s a very strong chance that AJ will now have to fight in this kind of closed-doors environment as well. Our plans are not waiting for the crowds; they are to advance the sport by any means necessary”.
‘He won’t fight in the Matchroom garden because it is December and the weather is a factor, but closed doors are possible. If the situation with no crowd develops, we have to be ready for that if it is what is presented to us. He will definitely fight this year whether it is closed doors or not”, he assured.
‘We are not ruling out going somewhere else because there will be territories that are Covid free and this situation is moving. Other countries will want to say they are open for business and a great way to do it is staging the heavyweight championship. The focus is still the UK”.
Joshua has not fought since he beat Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia last December.