Anthony Joshua's 'absolute focus' is still on fighting Kubrat Pulev in UK, says Eddie Hearn

"Wouldn't it be great to come through all this and stage a world heavyweight title fight in the UK this year"

Anthony Joshua, Kubrat Pulev 2:28
Anthony Joshua still plans to defend world titles in UK this year, says Eddie Hearn

Anthony Joshua's "absolute focus" is still on a homecoming world title fight against Kubrat Pulev, unless the UK option is "taken out of our hands", says promoter Eddie Hearn.

The Matchroom Boxing boss has confirmed Joshua will make one defence of his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles this year against IBF mandatory challenger Pulev, which is unlikely to be staged before the end of September.

Joshua had been due to face Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in June before the coronavirus pandemic, and Britain remains the most preferable option, although other locations in the Middle East, China and Croatia are being considered.

Anthony Joshua, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium composite
Image: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was the original venue for the fight

Hearn told Sky Sports: "Wouldn't it be great to come through all this and stage a world heavyweight title fight in the UK this year. For us, that is the absolute focus and if that's taken out of our hands, we will look at other options around the world.

"Croatia is a potential option at this stage and just a part of wider discussions. Given the current uncertainty, I would expect to see him in the ring again end of September at the earliest, but more likely October or November as the restrictions hopefully start to ease."

Pulev's manager Ivalyo Gotsev is keen to stage the fight at the end of August and revealed that he has secured financial backing and a date at Pula Arena, a Roman Amphitheatre in Croatia.

A gladiator performance at the historic location
Image: Pula Arena has hosted a number of events, including Gladiator displays

"What I've been working on and what I've secured is Croatia, that beautiful Roman-style arena," said Gotsev, who expects further talks about potential venues for the fight in the coming weeks.

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"We're basically welcome in Pula Arena, and that's a terrific spot where the fight can take place. Right now, it can be scheduled.

"On our end, we're 100 per cent. We've secured the venue, we've secured sponsors. We've secured basically the local municipalities, they're all behind us, and they're welcoming us.

I think we've come up with the best solution - that Roman arena, it's conditioned for this kind of fight.
Ivalyo Gotsev

"Our date is August 29th, that's the suggested date from our end, and we've secured that date basically at that arena. But we're open, we could go weeks before, or weeks after that. Working together works, and we're joining our efforts here, we're good partners.

"I think we've come up with the best solution - that Roman arena, it's conditioned for this kind of fight."

Dillian Whyte is the guest on Friday's Boxing Show at 2pm on Sky Sports News.

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