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Hearn says Joshua vs. Pulev will still go ahead without fans on Dec.12

Image: Hearn says Joshua vs. Pulev will still go ahead without fans on Dec.12

By Charles Brun: Anthony Joshua’s December 12th title defense against Kubrat Pulev will go ahead behind closed doors despite the UK government changing their mind about letting a limited amount of fans return to live events inside arenas beginning in October 1st. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says the Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) still take as previously scheduled.

Hearn wanted to stage Joshua’s title defense against IBF mandatory Pulev on December 12th in front of a crowd of 5,000 fans at the O2 Arena in London, England.

Those plans have now been dashed with the news from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that fans won’t be allowed back into sporting events at arenas in October.

Joshua can’t afford to sit idle

Hearn is still hoping that by December, the government will finally allow fans back in, but there are no guarantees that they will. There’s expected to be a second wave of the coronavirus hitting in December, and it doesn’t seem likely that fans will be permitted to return that early.

Eddie feels that it would be a mistake to let IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) sit outside of the ring longer waiting for the government to let fans return to events. Joshua, 30, hasn’t fought since beating Andy Ruiz Jr last December in their rematch, and Hearn doesn’t want t to have him stay inactive for more than a year without fighting.

Image: Hearn says Joshua vs. Pulev will still go ahead without fans on Dec.12

With Joshua’s ability to sell his fights on Sky Box Office pay-per-view, it gives him the freedom to fight without a live gate. Less wealthy/famous fighters don’t have that same ability to do that with their careers.

Of course, other famous fighters don’t want to give up the gate money even though they’re already wealthy enough to where they don’t need it.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week, saying that they’re not ready to let fans back into sporting events on October 1st. There’s been an increase in cases of coronavirus, and they don’t feel that this is the right time to let fans return for sporting events, even with social distancing measures in place.

“Obviously today’s announcement is a massive challenge for everyone in sport,” said Hearn to the Daily Mail. “Our intention now is carry on with all our scheduled events.

“Clearly the finances are affected by not having crowds, even smaller crowds, but we’re working to keep our schedule. That includes Joshua.

“You have two options – cancel or go ahead, quite possibly without a crowd. You’d still hope that by December you might have some back but you can’t plan on that now. We’ll go ahead in December for Joshua because it’s been a year since he fought Andy Ruiz and he needs to fight.”

AJ bulking up

Joshua appears to have added muscle weight to prepare himself for the 240+ pound Pulev on December 12th. In Joshua’s last fight against Ruiz in December, he trimmed down from 247 to 237 to enable him to move around the ring better.

Joshua’s lighter weight enabled him to stay on the outside the entire fight, and he was able to keep Ruiz from getting to him. But against Pulev, a fighter that likes to stay on the outside using his, Joshua is bulking back up to put on size to deal with the large Bulgarian. Pulev’s weight is usually around 248 to 249 for his fights.

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