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IBF offering flexibility in Anthony Joshua’s mandatory title defense

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Considering the climate, the sanctioning body has yet to establish a deadline for Joshua to face Pulev.

British boxer Anthony Joshua wins back his world heavyweight titles in Saudi Arabia Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

By now it’s clear that for there to be an undisputed heavyweight title unification between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, they both need to get through interim fights. While Fury is lined-up to face Deontay Wilder for a third time by the end of the year, Joshua has been ordered to make his mandatory IBF title defense against Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua-Pulev was originally planned for this month, but with the coronavirus pandemic that became an impossibility. Joshua and Pulev have since remained in talks as they try to iron out a location for their bout, but because of all the uncertainties around the fight the IBF have held off on ordering a firm date for it to be held by. In a statement issued by the IBF to Sky Sports, they state:

“Given the current circumstances we are being flexible. It is difficult to put a firm date on mandatory obligations at the moment. Everyone is working hard to get things going with boxing again and hopefully everything will be on track soon.”

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn continues to lobby for this fight to be held in the UK, but it seems that he needs to be able to generate at least some kind of live gate revenue in order to make it viable. That, obviously, is still a big question mark at the moment, but Hearn has the idea of putting the fight in Royal Albert Hall with only 1000 fans in attendance, which would create an air of exclusivity (and presumably drive up the ticket prices).

We’re still in uncharted territory in many respects to re-opening the sport, so we’ll just have to see if this concept gains any traction.