LONDON (AFP) – Anthony Joshua is set for his first fight in over a year after the world heavyweight champion said on Friday he would defend his titles against Kubrat Pulev at London’s O2 Arena on December 12.
Britain’s Joshua was originally scheduled to fight Pulev on June 20, with a second date in July also mooted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
December’s bout will be the first time Joshua has fought since outpointing Andy Ruiz Jr to regain his titles on December 7, 2019.
Pulev himself announced the bout with Joshua on Monday but did not specify a venue.
This will be Joshua’s first home bout in more than two years, with his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO up for grabs.
Spectators are currently barred from major sporting events in Britain but Joshua remains hopeful he can yet have something of a home crowd to roar him on.
“I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing,” said Joshua. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.
“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 United Kingdom (UK),” he added.
Pulev, in a post on his own website, said on Monday, “It’s official: Pulev vs Joshua on December 12 in London.
Pulev has been waiting for a chance to face Joshua for almost three years now after a shoulder injury forced him out of a world title bout in October 2017.
The fight should be Joshua’s last before taking on WBC champion Tyson Fury in a lucrative all-British unification bout next year.
Fury is set to defend his heavyweight belt before December 25 before what UK media report will be a springtime clash at Wembley, assuming coronavirus crowd restrictions have been lifted by then.