Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev could be staged in front of a small UK crowd later this year, promoter Eddie Hearn said.
Until lockdown the IBF, WBA and WBO title fight was planned for the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, a 62,000-seat capacity venue, but “the absolute priority” is to reschedule in the UK.
“We’re working on the assumption that AJ vs Pulev will not be able to take place in a venue the size of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium,” Hearn told Sky Sports.
“Our absolute priority is to stage the fight in the UK.
“It would be great for sports coming back, and businesses coming back, to have a world heavyweight title fight taking place on these shores.
“We’ve had interest from the Middle East, the Far East, yet to receive anything official from Croatia but they have shown interest too.
“But we’d like to do it [in the UK]. We are starting to look at venues that are smaller.
“There is the possibility of us staging the AJ fight in the UK. I don’t think it will be behind closed doors. If we can get some kind of number together [for a potential crowd] we can create an exclusive event to keep this fight in the UK.”
This fight could be closer than you think, according to @EddieHearn
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) April 3, 2020
Hearn plans to bring back boxing at a behind-closed-doors venue in July.
Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin and Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano are two fights planned without a crowd but Joshua’s next fight will wait until later this year.
Hearn previously said about Joshua: “Given the current uncertainty, I would expect to see him in the ring again end of September at the earliest, but more likely October or November as the restrictions hopefully start to ease.”
Derek Chisora’s fight with Oleksandr Usyk, initially planned for The O2 in London, is being considered for an overseas venue.