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Croatia interested in hosting Joshua-Pulev fight

Add the Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia, to the list of locations interested in host­ing the heavyweight fight between unified world titleholder Anthony Josh­ua and challenger Kubrat Pulev.

“We have a very solid of­fer,” CEO of Epic Sports and Entertainment Ivaylo Got­zev, who represents Pulev, told ESPN. “We’re respect­ing [Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn’s] position, and so he’s doing his thing out there in the Middle East, exploring that.

“We all agreed to work up the best offer — which doesn’t exclude London if they change the rules. So far it doesn’t look very positive to do it as originally planned.” Hearn, the head of Match­room Sports, had initially planned the bout for June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the event was eventually canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ll listen to all the offers that come in from all around the world,” Hearn told ESPN on Tuesday. “The preference for this fight, and AJ’s sole de­sire for this fight, is for it to take place in the U.K. Now, I’m not a big fan of AJ boxing be­hind closed doors, personally. Even if it’s a smaller crowd, it’s something we may have to consider.

“There have been a num­ber of countries that have reached out to stage an An­thony Joshua fight. Croatia is one that has come from [the Pulev] side.”

Hearn said he has received a half-dozen inquires about the fight from venues in var­ious countries around the globe.

“So we’ll definitely explore the options of where the fight should take place,” Hearn said. “We still want to exhaust the U.K. first as our primary option. But we definitely are also considering the other venue options because he has to fight. I’m not prepared for him not to fight in 2020. That would be a whole year of his career he didn’t fight. Ultimate­ly, we’ll review them all, and AJ will make a decision.”

“The Pula Arena is an amphitheater that was built during the Roman Empire,” Gotzev said. “It has some ter­rific history, that’s where the real gladiators fought.” Presently the boxing busi­ness is in a standstill during the global pandemic, and when the sport finally resumes, ques­tions abound about the param­eters in which fight cards can be staged.

There is talk of events taking place with no live au­diences. But that may not be financially realistic for certain promotions.

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