Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are unlikely to meet in the ring this year after promoter Bob Arum revealed ‘AJ’ will fight Kubrat Pulev in 2020.
Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF belt, meaning AJ has to fight him next, but reports had suggested he could step aside to allow the Nigeria born British heavyweight champion to fight Fury.
But after missing out on the chance to fight Joshua in 2017 after pulling out of the fight with an injury, he’s now unwilling to give up his chance this time around.
Bob Arum, who promotes Fury in the US and is also represents Pulev, told Bad Left Hook: (There will be) No step aside for Pulev.
“I talked to Eddie Hearn (Saturday) morning about Joshua vs Pulev.
“It looks like it can’t be the UK, because there couldn’t be spectators. There looks like there are a couple other possibilities.
“It’s probably not gonna take place until later this year. And definitely not the UK. Also, for Fury versus Wilder, that’s looking like the fourth quarter.”
Joshua’s fight with Pulev was originally scheduled for June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but the coronavirus pandemic saw the bout postponed.
In recent days, reports have suggested talks are ongoing to stage the fight abroad, with Croatia suggested as one potential location for the bout.
Pulev’s Manager, Ivaylo Gotsev, told reporters: “For our part, we are discussing Croatia. There is a unique Roman stadium, the Pula Arena, and we are in active conversation.
“We like this variant because it is in Europe, in the middle of the continent. The arena itself predisposes to an unprecedented event in our times.
“There must be mutual consent. We want the conditions and rules to be favourable for both parties.”
The Middle East is another possible option after Joshua regained his three world titles with a points victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“Hearn is talking about the Middle East and we have left it to him to communicate in that direction,” added Gotsev.
“Bulgaria it cannot be, because Joshua will not agree. He wanted to be home, but force majeure led to a change.
“Kubrat was ready to fight in Joshua’s backyard and even if his family were judges!” concludes Gotsev.