Fans to return to boxing for Joshua v Pulev

The Matchroom Boxing agency has today (Wednesday) announced it will sell tickets to 1,000 fans for the heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev, which will be held at the SSE Arena, Wembley on December 12.

Following approval from local authorities in London, fight fans will have the opportunity to watch IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world title holder Joshua fight on home soil for the first time in over two years. Tickets have been priced at £100 (€111/$134), £200, £300, £500 and £1,000 (VIP) and will be available to purchase via AXS and StubHub on Friday at 10am GMT, as spectators are welcomed back to live boxing for the first time since March.

The announcement comes after it was revealed last week that fans will be allowed back in English venues from today as part of guidelines based on the Government’s new tiered lockdown system.

Indoor sporting events and fixtures in Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be able to host a maximum of 1,000 fans, or 50 per cent of capacity. In Tier 3 areas, fans will not be permitted to attend elite sporting fixtures, in line with hospitality venues and other large event venues being closed. In these areas, elite sport will continue behind closed doors.

Strict safety measures and guidelines, in line with Government rules, will be in place at SSE Arena, Wembley to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include that the lead booker can only attend with members of their own household, the wearing of face coverings at the arena, and a strict no refund or resale for tickets purchased.

In October, it was announced that Matchroom Boxing would take up residency at the SSE Arena, Wembley to stage four major events during the remainder of the year. Earlier that month, Matchroom Boxing said it hoped to have fans in attendance at The O2 after the London arena landed hosting rights to the rescheduled heavyweight title fight between Joshua and Pulev.

Joshua had been due to defend his 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, and has now been moved from The O2 to SSE Arena, Wembley due to promoter logistics.

Commenting on today’s news, John Drury, vice-president and general manager of the SSE Arena, Wembley, said: “The SSE Arena, Wembley is delighted to have our customers back for its reopening event, and it does not get any better than the return of fans to see Anthony Joshua in action.

“The SSE Arena, Wembley will open its doors with best-in-class procedures from ASM Global’s VenueShield programme. VenueShield is a comprehensive, industry-leading programme deployed at more than 325 ASM Global facilities around the world, providing the highest levels of enhanced cleanliness and safety.

“As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, ASM Global has partnered with medical professionals, industry leaders, and public health officials to create a welcoming, secure environment while providing the most advanced hygienic safeguards for anyone visiting the building.

“We are following all government and local authority health guidelines in order to reopen, and look forward to bringing fans and events back in a COVID-secure way.”

Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Sport, added: “Whilst the team have done an incredible job over the last 10 months we live and breathe through the energy and atmosphere that a live crowd generates.

“It’s so fitting that they can return for an AJ fight, when through the last few years he has broken all kinds of attendance records in the UK and beyond. This is such a positive move for boxing and all sport.”

In other news, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has today announced that tickets for the 2020-21 World Darts Championship will go on priority sale tomorrow and on general sale on Friday via SeeTickets. The World Darts Championship will take place from December 15 to January 3 at London’s Alexandra Palace, featuring 96 players competing across 16 days of action.

The tournament will be the first PDC event in the UK to feature a live crowd since March, with plans now confirmed for up to 1,000 fans to attend each session at Alexandra Palace in a COVID-secure environment under specific conditions.

Fans from the UK in Tier 1 or Tier 2 areas will be able to book a table of four seats, with a table required to consist of one household or support bubble. Social distancing measures will be in operation throughout the venue, spectators will be required to arrive at specified times and gain admission through one of two entrances, while food and drink will be served directly to tables and booked via a dedicated app.