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Boxing: Joshua ready to fight behind closed doors

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Anthony Joshua is ready to take a whack in the pocket by fighting behind closed doors.

Watford’s heavyweight king rakes in around £5million from ticket sales for his sold-out UK showdowns — so a fan-free 2020 bout was originally ruled out by promoter Eddie Hearn.

But with Covid-19 refusing to go away and the one-year anniversary of his last fight approaching, WBA, IBF and WBO champ AJ is eyeing up a very different return to the ring.

WBC holder Tyson Fury informed his matchmaker Frank Warren he wants a December fight, whatever the restrictions in place.

And Joshua has told Hearn a similar thing.

Hearn revealed to SunSport: “AJ wants to fight this year — and he will fight.

“Hopefully by December we will be in a situation where we can have a full, or close-to-full, O2.

“Because when you talk about no crowds causing a hole in budgets, his is around £5m.

“To counter that, we either have to find a site fee from someone or a way to bring crowds back.

“But he will fight, he has to, otherwise it will be a year out of the ring. We have to get him back in 2020.

“I would put him on behind closed doors now, yes. The numbers wouldn’t be as good — but he is prepared to do it.”

Joshua, 30, had booked a June 20 IBF mandatory defence against Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, before the coronavirus struck.

And Hearn admits that the ongoing uncertainty the pandemic has caused means there are now more options on the table.

He said: “Right now, the plan is still to fight Pulev, as he is the mandatory challenger.

“But this situation has put everything up in the air and there are a lot of moving parts.

“Anything can happen because people have to deliver more value.

“Joshua wants to fight Fury but he wants the WBC belt — the only one he is missing — more.

“He could fight Tyson Fury for it, he could fight Dillian Whyte for it. But that is now the belt he wants.”

I would put him on behind closed doors now, yes. The numbers wouldn’t be as good — but he is prepared to do it.

For a decade, Matchroom chief Hearn and Queensberry boss Warren have avoided each other at all costs.

But Warren and his BT broadcasters sent a public challenge to the competition last month in a bid to set up some mouth-watering cross- stable clashes.

A lunch date is in the diaries — yet Hearn remains suspicious and will refuse to hand his nemesis a slice of the pie he has worked so hard to bake.

Hearn said: “I don’t want to sound arrogant but we have been competitors for ten years and they have written us probably two dozen legal letters, complained about us to the Board and slagged us off.

“And now we are No 1 and they are struggling, so they want us to work together.

“I won’t be arrogant enough to say ‘f*** off’, so if it works for our broadcasters and fighters I will look at it. But personally I am happy with what we are doing.

read also:Ekundayo ‘enjoys’ training with Anthony Joshua

“I don’t think Sky has any desire to partner with BT on boxing — and Matchroom has no desire to partner with Frank Warren. But we do have a desire to make good fights.

“It’s been a strange relationship, I have just been in my own lane and they have always tried to run me off the road.

“So I have no desire to just say, ‘Let’s hold hands and help each other,’ because they haven’t tried to help me for the last ten years.”

The post Boxing: Joshua ready to fight behind closed doors appeared first on Sporting Life.

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