After the global COVID-19 pandemic threw boxing into chaos, the showdown between WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev began to tumble down the sport's schedule. Now, Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn says his team is targeting a Dec. 12 showdown in London's O2 Arena.
That plan still hinges on finalizing the terms with Pulev and things staying on track for fans to be in attendance. But, either way, Hearn said Joshua will put his unified titles on the line before the end of 2020.
"Anthony Joshua will fight this year regardless," Hearn told ESPN. "We have applied, ourselves, for a test event with the U.K. government with Joshua Buatsi at the end of September. The government has already stated that from the beginning of October, live crowds will be able to return to sporting events.
"We don't know what the world is going to give us in the next couple of months," Hearn continued. "But if things keep moving like they're moving, we'll definitely be allowed fans in the O2 Arena. It's just a case of how many."
Joshua won his championships back in his rematch with Andy Ruiz this past December. Ruiz had scored a shocking upset of Joshua in June 2019, handing Joshua his first career defeat with a seventh-round knockout.
After recapturing the titles, Joshua's attention turned to the mandatory defense against Pulev while Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder plan to sort out their issues in a rubber match for the WBC championship. The ultimate hope is that the winner of Fury vs. Wilder 3 will then turn around and fight Joshua to unify all four major heavyweight world championships.
Pulev is riding an eight-fight winning streak since a 2014 knockout loss to Wladamir Klitschko, the lone loss of Pulev's professional career.