Promoter Matchroom Boxing has said it hopes to have fans in attendance at The O2 after the London arena landed hosting rights to the rescheduled heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua had been due to defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight world titles against Pulev on June 20 in what would have marked the first major boxing event at English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. The fight was called off due to COVID-19 back in April, but has now been assigned a new home and date – December 12.

Joshua recaptured his belts and position as the unified heavyweight world champion with a unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on a historical night in December that saw the heavyweight world titles contested for the very first time in the Middle East.

December 12 will be Joshua’s first fight on home soil in over two years, since he defended his crowns with a seventh round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium. Victory over Pulev is set to lead to a high-profile all-British encounter against WBC champion Tyson Fury in 2021.

Bulgaria’s Pulev was set to challenge Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017 but was forced to withdraw through an injury.

Matchroom Boxing managing director Eddie Hearn said: “After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified World Heavyweight Championship is very special.

“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together.”

Image: Matchroom Boxing