30 April 2020

Anthony Joshua's next fight could be behind closed doors, says promoter Hearn

Anthony Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn has refused to rule out the possibility of his next fight taking place behind closed doors.

Joshua was due to face Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20, but the bout has now been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua outsmarted Ruiz in Saudi Arabia last year (PA Images)

And while Hearn insists boxing with no crowd remains a last resort, he also refuses to prevent the heavyweight world champion from fighting simply because a crowd cannot attend.

“I'm not going to hold his career up to the point where he hasn't boxed in a year,” he told iFL TV. "If we have to (go behind closed doors), I would. I don't want to.

"When you look back those pictures three years ago (Joshua v Klitschko), one of the greatest nights anyone has ever had. Those iconic moments, that visual impact is so important for Joshua's brand, for the brand of boxing, for our country. I don't want to do that behind closed doors. So, I want to give ourselves every opportunity to stage AJ in front of a crowd.

"We probably have to bite the bullet and say he's only going to box once this year. So, if that's the case then we're OK to go in September or October, don't really want to go much further than that.

“My preference is AJ with a crowd in the UK. My next preference is AJ in another country with a crowd. And my last resort is AJ behind closed doors."

Joshua has not fought since he regained his heavyweight world titles in a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia last December.

The Briton, who was knocked out by Ruiz in seven rounds in June 2019, won by unanimous decision to take his professional record to 23 wins and one defeat.

The only heavyweight belt Joshua is yet to claim is the WBC strap, which is now held by fellow countryman Tyson Fury after he stopped American Deontay Wilder in seven rounds in February.

Fury and Wilder are expected to fight for a third time later this year before the winner can look to unify in an undisputed bout with Joshua, providing he comes through Pulev.

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