Government restrictions announced on Thursday mean Anthony Joshua will be allowed to have one thousand fans attend his clash with Kubrat Pulev.
Due to London being put in Tier Two by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, spectators are given the green light.
The number is stipulated on the www.gov.uk website, where it reads: “Indoor sporting events and fixtures in tiers one and two locations will be able to host a maximum of 1,000 fans or 50 percent of stadium capacity – whatever is lower.
“However, in tier three locations, fans will not be permitted to attend elite sporting fixtures in line with hospitality venues and other large event venues being closed. Elite sport in tier three locations will continue behind closed doors.”
The unified heavyweight champion will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO, and IBO World Titles against Pulev in London on Saturday, December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
DAZN will broadcast in the United States.
It’s thought Joshua vs. Pulev could certainly now move from The O2 to Wembley Arena to solidify some atmosphere for the event.
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) recaptured his belts and position as the Unified Heavyweight World Champion with a masterful 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 ‘AJ’s’ first fight on UK soil in over two years since he defended his crowns with a devastating seventh-round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.
The former Finchley ABC man will undoubtedly be aiming to deal with Pulev in style to set up an Undisputed showdown against WBC Champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.
Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF’s No.1-ranked Heavyweight Mandatory Challenger, gets his second shot at World honors. It comes after his defeat to modern legend Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. The only loss of his 29-fight professional career.
Since then, he has won six fights in a row, including victories over Derek Chisora and an IBF Eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018.
The Bulgarian superstar was set to challenge Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017. But was forced to withdraw through an injury. He will now get his opportunity to ruin the champion’s plans to face Fury in an all-British blockbuster showdown in the future.
Joshua spoke about the possibility of fans when the announcement was made for his clash originally.
“December 12 is the date. Once again, the Heavyweight belts go up in the air. It is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13, they are in their rightful place in the UK,” said Joshua.
“The O2 is the original lion’s den. I have a lot of history with the arena. But without the fans, something huge is missing.
“I hope that safety permitting might bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.”
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the Heavyweight Titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev.
“This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn had outlined his intention to push for fans. He gets his wish but in a far smaller capacity.
“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified World Heavyweight Championship is very special,” said Hearn.
“AJ’s resume is unrivaled. This is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year.
“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. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become World Champion on Dec 12. But AJ constantly evolves and improves.
“Furthermore, I expect a dominant performance. A spectacular KO to close out in 2020.”