Anthony Joshua’s mandatory defence of his heavyweight titles against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev will go ahead this year irrespective of the announcement that fans cannot return to sporting events from October.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had been working in the hope that the heavyweight world title fight would take place on December 12 at The O2 in front of upwards of 5,000 spectators as part of the phased reintegration of crowds at live sport.
But as Daily Mail reports, it is increasingly likely that any fight would need to be staged in front of zero fans following the confirmation on Tuesday from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that large events will remain closed due to the rise in coronavirus cases.
Despite the hefty financial implications of having no gate income to pay a fighter whose purses top eight figures, Hearn is adamant all his scheduled shows will go ahead.
According to Daily Mail, Hearn said: ‘Obviously today’s announcement is a massive challenge for everyone in sport.
‘Our intention now is carry on with all our scheduled events. Clearly the finances are affected by not having crowds, even smaller crowds, but we’re working to keep our schedule. That includes Joshua.
‘You have two options – cancel or go ahead, quite possibly without a crowd. You’d still hope that by December you might have some back but you can’t plan on that now.
‘We’ll go ahead in December for Joshua because it’s been a year since he fought Andy Ruiz and he needs to fight.’
Hearn is still working on the basis that the fight will be at The O2, despite foreign interest in staging Joshua’s defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles.