If boxing is to start back up without an audience, Matchroom Boxing CEO Eddie Hearn helped us rule out the championship bout between Anthony Joshua and IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, as one of those fights.
Hearn speaking with the gang at iFL TV, stated Wednesday that he would like to keep the image of Joshua fighting in front of a live audience.
Joshua-Pulev was originally scheduled for June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and pushed back to July 25 – but, even that date isn’t looking very good in this climate. Hearn mentioned he would rather have a crowd for that contest, in the U.K., but realizes that he may be forced to take the show on the road elsewhere depending on how the pandemic goes.
“Those visual impacts are so important for Joshua’s brand, for the sport of boxing, for our country – I don’t want to do that behind closed doors. I want to give ourselves every opportunity to stage an AJ fight in front of a crowd. We may have to bite the bullet and say he’s only going to box once this year. ‘If that’s the case, we’re okay to go in September or October. Don’t want to go much longer than that. Then it’s a year since he last boxed,” Hearn told IFL TV.
'CALL ME A P****, NOT A LIAR' -EDDIE HEARN / WHYTE-RUIZ OFFER, FURY, AJ, WILDER, MILLER 'DISGUSTING' https://t.co/hIIbMUJFPD
— iFL TV™ (@IFLTV) April 29, 2020
“My preference is AJ in the UK with a crowd. My next preference is AJ in another country with a crowd. Last resort is AJ behind closed doors. I’m not going to hold his career up for a year, so we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”
Hearn not having Joshua fight in front of no one is just another name in the ever growing list of championship prize fighters that want the atmosphere of fans. Reading between the lines, Hearn mentioned the ‘Joshua brand’ and like all brands, cost money. Money that a live gate i.e. fans would help in. What this means that we may see Joshua at the earliest at the end of the year or outside of the United Kingdom for his mandatory against Pulev.
On the flip-side, Heavyweight fights like Whyte vs. Povetkin and Chisora vs. Usyk may still go on without fans, if need be.
“Whyte is one of the guys saying he’ll fight Povetkin behind closed doors. Lots of people are saying you can’t stage the big fights behind closed doors. I’m trying to take that perception away. I want to stage some of the big fights behind closed doors. You know what, if we wait too long we won’t have a choice. Let’s crack on. Yes, we’re going to lose money, but we’ve got. We’ll come back with two or three pumped up NextGen fights and then I want to bounce straight in with Whyte-Povetkin,” Hearn said.
We’ll get fights behind closed doors, just not the one for the heavyweight championship of the world in boxing.