Anthony Joshua‘s mandatory defence against Kubrat Pulev could be staged at a ‘quirky’ venue such as a boat or a castle, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
The British world champion was due to take on the Bulgarian in April at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the coronavirus pandemic left the plans in tatters, and now both sides are seeking an alternative location.
Joshua last fought in December when he beat Andy Ruiz Jr in their Saudi Arabia rematch to win back his four title belts, and now Pulev stands in his way of a mouth-watering future fight against Tyson Fury in an all-British undisputed clash.
Anthony Joshua could face Kubrat Pulev (R) at a quirky venue, says promoter Eddie Hearn (C)
A boat might even be a possible location for the world title fight in November, says Hearn
The bout was due to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before COVID-19 broke out
Restrictions around the virus make organising the bout a lot harder, and it may even have to be staged outside the UK with the number of spectators limited.
Hearn, who believes it is ‘impossible’ to stage a Joshua fight behind closed doors, said he was being creative with some ‘strange’ ideas to ensure the event is done justice, adding he was ‘open and flexible’ to other options.
‘Other ideas we have are 1,000 people somewhere strange and quirky,’ he told the Evening Standard. ‘I’ve got a few things up my sleeve.
‘We’re talking about castles, plush hotels, maybe even on a boat.’
He soared back to the summit of boxing in December after beating Andy Ruiz Jr in a rematch
Hearn says it is impossible to stage a Joshua fight behind closed doors and is getting creative
Previously Hearn revealed he had been approached by figures in the Middle East, as well as a coliseum in Croatia – an option he said remains on the table.
‘Croatia have offered a coliseum, and that’s beautiful,’ he added. ‘And we’re still open to options and flexible.
‘These are all things thinking outside of the box — it just depends what’s allowed.’
Hearn is plotting to get the fight on by November, and the O2 arena – once a regular haunt of Joshua’s in his early career – has been touted as a possible venue.
But the promoter said he was currently ‘handcuffed’ by strict protocols, which means he might have to explore options abroad.
Pulev has only lost one fight in his career and poses a massive threat to Joshua’s hopes
The Pula Arena in Croatia could be used as an alternative venue and is still on the table
He added: ‘By November, can we go to 16,000 people at the O2? Right now, we’re handcuffed by the regulations.’
Pulev has only lost one fight – to former world champion Wladimir Klitschko – and poses a huge threat to Joshua’s hopes of becoming the undisputed heavyweight king. Hearn has held talks with Tyson Fury’s representatives and the two fighters have agreed terms for a two-fight deal.
However, both have hurdles to jump first – with Fury still needing to get past Deontay Wilder after they complete their trilogy later this year. The Gypsy King was supposed to face the American this summer but that fight now looks set for December.
Hearn admitted there is ‘still a lot to overcome’ to arrange the Joshua v Fury fight, but insisted both sides were ‘making progress’.
A fight with fellow Brit Tyson Fury could lie in wait should Joshua overcome the Bulgarian
‘We’re making great progress,’ he told Sky Sports last month. ‘There is still a lot to overcome. We are looking at venues and dates. It’s fair to say [Joshua and Fury] are in agreement regarding the financial terms of the fight.
‘We’re in a good place. It’s fair to say that, in principle, both guys have agreed to that fight. Two fights.
‘[There’s] a lot to overcome in the meantime. We’re moving in the right direction. I’m confident that both guys have given their blessing for the fight to go ahead.
‘The point of Fury, Joshua and the teams agreeing to the structure of the deal? The first fight could happen next summer. It will be 2021.’