Joshua vs Pulev date set for December 12 – report

Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev is set to go ahead at London’s O2 Arena with a date of Saturday December 12, according to AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn.

The Matchroom supremo told BoxingScene  that it is hoped spectators will be present at the showdown as Joshua defends his IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles against IBF mandatory contender Pulev.  UK arenas are currently expected to be open to the public by October at around 25 percent capacity.

“Yes, Dec. 12 at the O2 is the plan for AJ,” said Hearn.

All other areas of the contract, per the report from former ESPN lead writer Dan Rafael, are being finalised given the change in circumstances since the first planned date, which was June 20 in front of around 70,000 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which put paid to that date and venue, has obviously changed the landscape significantly and a reduced live gate will affect revenue projections for the bout.

Pulev’s team meanwhile, who have been highly critical in the delays of getting a date and venue set (they had offered the alternative of a Roman amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia), are just happy things are back on track.

John Wirt of Epic Sports, which co-promotes Pulev along with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, said: “We are happy that the fight appears to be back on track and that we have a new date and site.

“There is still some tweaking to do on the contract but we are optimistic it should be concluded this week.”

The 39-year-old Pulev (28-1) has challenged for world-title glory once in the past, suffering a knockout defeat by Wladimir Klitschko back in 2014.

If the bout does go ahead on December 12, it will be Joshua’s first in more than a year – he was last seen out in that rematch victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December 2019.

If the Watford man safely overcomes Pulev (he is a heavy favourite, as short as 1/10 in places) it will remove the one definite barrier to a unification showdown with big British rival Tyson Fury in the summer of 2021.

Fury meanwhile is currently set to face Deontay Wilder a week later on December 19 in their trilogy match. It had been hoped the bout could be staged at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. However that now appears in doubt and Arum has mooted the possibility the bout may be moved back to early February 2021 and staged in Asia.