Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title fight with Kubrat Pulev is set to be postponed by several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 38-year-old Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title, but he believes it is ‘impossible’ that the fight which was scheduled to take place on June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will go ahead as planned.
The 62,000 capacity stadium was no longer available after European football’s governing body UEFA postponed the European Championship to 2021, meaning any rescheduled Premier League fixtures could now run into the summer.
‘It is impossible for the fight to take place on June 20, although I am ready,’ Bulgarian Pulev said. ‘The match will take place a few months later, perhaps towards the end of the year.’
Pulev, a former European amateur super-heavyweight champion, challenged for the IBF world heavyweight title in 2014, losing to Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg on a fifth-round knockout.
Joshua last fought in London in September, 2018 when he beat Alexander Povetkin by round-seven stoppage at Wembley Stadium.
The flu-like virus that originated in China late last year has killed nearly 10,000 people and infected more than 235,000 globally. It has forced the cancellation or postponement of numerous sporting and other events.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had previously suggested the event would go ahead but admitted he had a contingency plan if the pandemic worsened.
‘A requirement for Anthony in his next fight, a necessity for him, was to box in the UK,’ Hearn said. ‘June 20 is a long time away, it’s still in our plans.
‘We have been speaking to Tottenham and making sure that we’re all on the same page.
For the Joshua fight, there are already potential plans to move that fight back to July. We do have a potential date for that, but right now we’re hoping June 20 can remain the date.
‘At the moment it’s still in place. Obviously with the news of the Euros being cancelled and the possible extension of the Premier League season, Spurs may need that stadium in June.’