Eddie Hearn cannot envision Anthony Joshua fighting Kubrat Pulev at any point prior to September.
Joshua’s promoter also acknowledges that the British superstar might not make that mandatory defense of his IBF heavyweight title until November. Whenever Joshua-Pulev takes place, it won’t happen without an audience, which Hearn thinks makes it increasingly unlikely that it’ll be staged in the United Kingdom.
Hearn explained how he is handling the Joshua-Pulev situation to Chris Mannix during the newest episode of the Sports Illustrated boxing podcast.
“It’s the fight that I see happening,” Hearn said. “You know, we’re all working together for other alternatives. We got approached from an amphitheater/coliseum in Croatia last week, and some guys who wanted to bring the fight out there. The Middle East have shown interest in that fight as well. We really wanted to do that fight in the UK. But it’s virtually impossible to do it. And to be honest, Chris, I don’t really wanna do an AJ fight behind closed doors. I just don’t think – you know, his whole career, his whole brand, hasn’t it, has been built on the fact that he is this huge draw. Tens of thousands of people, fireworks and ‘Sweet Caroline’ and screaming [fans].
“To go and do it in a dark studio, an empty hall, just wouldn’t feel right. So, AJ’s a little bit different, you know, in that there’s gonna be plenty of approaches and there has been already about staging that fight [outside the UK]. So, I see AJ fighting anywhere between September and November, to be honest with you.”
The 30-year-old Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) was supposed to square off against Bulgaria’s Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) on June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. The COVID-19 pandemic postponed Joshua-Pulev indefinitely, but Hearn had hoped initially that it could still be staged at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at some point this summer.
If Hearn takes Joshua-Pulev outside of the UK, it’ll mark Joshua’s third straight fight away from his homeland. His past two fights – a seventh-round, technical-knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. and a unanimous-decision defeat of Ruiz in their immediate rematch – were held in New York and Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, respectively.
Joshua last boxed in the UK in September 2018. The IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion stopped Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs) in the seventh round of that fight at Wembley Stadium in London.
Beyond eliminating the atmosphere, Hearn is opposed to putting on a Joshua fight without fans because he doesn’t want to sacrifice substantial revenue from the live gate.
“Wilder and Fury have the same problem,” Hearn said, referring to their third WBC heavyweight title fight. “They’re gonna wanna generate a $10-$15 million gate. So, they may look internationally for that fight as well. And obviously, the winners of those fights must fight each other.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.