Eddie Hearn says he is hoping and praying that Anthony Joshua’s delayed world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev will go ahead in front of a packed O2 Arena in London on December 12, but says that Joshua, the WBA, IBO, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion, will box this year ahead of a likely fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury next year.
Hearn says he is on the verge of an announcement for the fight, which originally scheduled for June at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown happened.
The Matchroom boss was announcing the rematch between Alexander Povetkin v Dillian Whyte rematch was set for November 21 and shows headlined by Joshua Buatsi and Lewis Ritson on October 4 and October 21 respectively.
He also said that there was an outside chance that the delayed heavyweight clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora could take place on October 31.
“AJ, December 12 at the O2, that is the date we are trying to make that fight for,” Hearn said on Sky Sports News. “We are on the verge of an announcement, we hope and pray that it can be in front of a packed O2, or a crowd in some capacity.
“But his career must continue. As we build up to the undisputed fight next year, he must fight this year, fans or no fans.”
Hearn said that Joshua had agreed to box whether a crowd is allowed or now, although he added that he hoped 1,000 fans would be allowed for both October shows.
“One thing that is important about all this schedule, AJ included, is we crack on, fans or no fans,” Hearn said. “We’ve got to find a way to keep this momentum going and we will do it.
“All these fights and all those fighters that are listed, AJ included, are committed to fighting this year, behind closed doors or in front of fans.
“Tomorrow we have a little feedback coming from the Government where we hope we will be allowed 1,000 fans for Buatsi and Ritson and as we move on to November, hopefully Diliian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin can have fans in attendance. There is a little outside chance you might see Usyk v Chisora on October 31 as well.”
Ritson’s fight with Miguel Vasquez will take place at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle (formerly the Metro Radio Arena), while no venue was announced for Buatsi’s fight with Marko Calic. He said he hoped Povetkin-Whyte 2, for the interim WBC heavyweight title, would be at either the Royal Albert Hall or Wembley Arena.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.