By Tim Royner: There’s a potential for the Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev fight to be moved to July if the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a problem in the UK.
Matchroom Boxing has seen their cards postponed for March and April due to the coronavirus, so they plan on being one step ahead by having an alternative date or the Joshua-Pulev card.
The coronavirus could still be present in July and perhaps even for the rest of 2020. Postponing Joshua’s fight until July could be a waste of time, as it might need to be pushed further back in the year before it can take place.
With countries being on lockdown due to the highly contagious and dangerous COVID 19 virus, July might be too soon for Joshua and Pulev to be fighting in front of a huge audience of 62,303.
Joshua vs. Pulev could get moved to July
For the time being, promoter Eddie Hearn is hoping to keep the June 20th date for the Joshua-Pulev fight at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in London, England. Hearn is counting on the unprecedented measures being used by the UK will help. However, there’s a very real potential that the threat from the coronavirus will continue all the way into August.
“For the Anthony Joshua fight, already potential plans to move that fight back to July. We do have a potential date for that, but right now, hoping June 20 can remain the date,” said Hearn to skysports.com.
Hearn not ready to move Joshua-Pulev behind closed doors
What Hearn should be considering right now is placing the Joshua vs Pulev fight BEHIND closed doors, but thus far he’s being resistant to that idea. The gate money obviously would be huge for the Joshua-Pulev fight, as it is for ALL Joshua fights, and Hearn isn’t ready to give up on all that loot.
The gate money that Joshua’s fights bring in is obviously good, but Hearn may need to be practical about it. If Joshua can’t fight due to the coronavirus measures preventing large events, then Hearn will need to take his fights behind closed doors.
Taking Joshua’s fights behind closed doors
Hearn may need to hit the nuclear button and take the Joshua vs. Pulev fight to a sterile studio environment if the coronavirus drags on into August, September. October or November. If you look at the Swine Flu and 1918 Spanish Flu pandemics, those two were around for a long time. The Swine Flu didn’t disappear for a year and a half, the deadlier Spanish Flu remained a gloomy presence for 3 years.
Hearn will be looking to follow what the Premier League does when they decide to resume play. If they start up again in April, then that’ll make it possible for Matchroom to resume staging their large event involving huge crowds of people in the UK. April is just a month away.
That would seem to be early for people to assemble in large groups given the present situation. It’s very likely that the restrictions on large crowds will still be in place by April.
It would hurt to have Joshua-Pulev take place in a studio, but at least DAZN and Sky Sports Box Office would have an excellent fight to show fans at home. For a lot of people right now, they’re hunkered down in their homes, waiting for the coronavirus to disappear.
It would be great for them to still be able to watch the Joshua vs. Pulev fight without having to wait a year or two before takes place.
Hearn worried about Whyte-Povetkin & Usyk-Chisora cards
“We also have Dillian Whyte due to fight Povetkin on May 2. And we have Derek Chisora due to fight Oleksandr Usyk on May 23, said Hearn. “We hope that they won’t need to be moved, but we also understand this is constantly evolving.”
If Hearn hasn’t realized by now that the Whyte-Povetkin and Usyk-Chisora cards are in a bad position, then he might need to wake up and smell the coffee. Those fight cards have a real potential of needing to be postponed because it’s unlikely that the coronavirus will have been completely eradicated by then.
In the best possible world, a vaccine will have been discovered by then to give the masses, but that’s not probably not going to happen. The smart thing for Hearn to do is start considering placing those fight cards behind closed doors if he wants them to take place in 2020. Unless there’s a country that has permissive rules about allowing mass crowds for events, Hearn could be stuck taking the Whyte-Povetkin and Usyk-Chisora cards behind closed doors.