Anthony Joshua's "sole focus" for December title defence

Sep 15, 2020

Promoter Eddie Hearn has turned boxing Santa Claus with an early Christmas present for British fans who have suffered through a pretty bleak 2020. 

Hearn announced via a Twitter post on Friday 16 October that unified heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua will take on Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in London this December.

His tweet read: “On December 12, we end the Year with a BANG!!! Back in the Lions Den at The O2 for #JoshuaPulev”.

AJ’s defence of his IBF, WBA, WBO, and IBO world titles against mandatory challenger Pulev will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office.

However, an optimistic AJ has said he is hoping fans will be able to attend in person, potentially making the match up an extra special gift for some lucky supporters. 

AJ (23-1, 21 KOs) said: "The O2 is the original lion's den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing.

"I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.”

There are certainly no guarantees as things stand with Covid-19, but at least there is now a confirmed date for the event.

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The fight had originally been scheduled to take place in June 2020 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, but like other fights at the time it was postponed due to the pandemic.

The two heavyweights also had a cancelled world title fight in 2017. Back then, Joshua and Pulev were set to meet at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium until an injury for the Bulgarian forced him to withdraw.

Three years later and Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) could now use the event to ruin AJ’s plans to face Tyson Fury.

 After AJ reclaimed his title as unified heavyweight world champion against Andy Ruiz Jr in the Clash on the Dunes in December 2019, the Brit was quick to call out Fury - so he will be determined to set up a fight with The Gypsy King for next year.

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 Meanwhile Pulev has been talking of his pride at being the next opponent to fight AJ. He said: “For a small Bulgaria country to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment.

 “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world. I’m coming to London to seize the heavyweight championship of the world.”

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 The fight will be Pulev’s second shot at the world champion spot after he lost in 2014 to Wladimir Klitschko. Since that one and only career defeat, Pulev has won six fights on the bounce.

Despite not being up against a British opponent, AJ is back fighting on British soil for the first time since he knocked out Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in September 2018.

And AJ is determined that the belts will not be leaving his home turf come the end of the fight. 

He said: “December 12 is the date, and once again, the heavyweight belts go up in the air, and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13, they are in their rightful place in the UK.”

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