Nigerian-born world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua has confirmed London’s O2 Arena as his preferred venue for his mandatory title fight against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev on December 12, megasportsarena.com reveals.
‘AJ,’ who was previously set to defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) belt against the mandatory challenger in June, made the announcement while confirming that he aims to return to London in a spectacular ending to the year, when he will get his hotly anticipated first fight on UK soil in over two years.
Aside the IBF belt, Joshua will also defend his World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) titles against Pulev in a bout that will be live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN, promoted by Matchroom Boxing in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment.
Victory for Joshua will set up a blockbuster contest in 2021 with World Boxing Council (WBC) champion and fellow Briton, Tyson Fury for the undisputed global heavyweight accolade, while the Pulev fight will mark Joshua’s first fight on UK soil in over two years.
Since he defended his belts with a devastating seventh round knock-out of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, the Watford-born heavyweight has lost one fight yet regained all the belts to the same man, following a rematch against Mexican-American, Andy Ruiz Jnr last December in Saudi Arabia
On the other hand, Pulev, who is the IBF’s No.1-ranked heavyweight mandatory challenger, gets his second shot at the world tiutle, following his defeat by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, which remains the only loss of his 29-fight professional career.
He has won six fights in a row since then, including victories over British-Zambian, Derek Chisora and an IBF eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018 such that Joshua knows he has a tough fight ahead of him and he cannot afford another shock setback against the Bulgarian, especially with negotiations ongoing for an undisputed world title fight with Fury in 2021.
Joshua declared: “December 12 is the date and once again the heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK. 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 am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see. I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
In reaction, Pulev, who had previously been forced out by injury from a scheduled fight against Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017, declared that he is planning a stunning win in his second world title shot following a sole defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
Pulev concluded: “For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment. 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.”