Anthony Joshua, Kubrat Pulev reschedule title fight for December

Anthony Joshua will defend his world heavyweight titles for the first time this year when it was confirmed he will face Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12 in London. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

LONDON — Anthony Joshua will defend his world heavyweight titles for the first time this year when it was confirmed he will face Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12 in London.

Joshua was first scheduled to meet Pulev in October 2017 in Cardiff but the Bulgarian withdrew with an injured shoulder. Pulev won six straight fights to become a mandatory challenger, but their June 20 bout was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua’s WBA, IBF, and WBO titles will be on the line in his first home fight in more than two years, his promotion company Matchroom announced on Friday.

No spectators have been allowed at boxing in England during the pandemic, but Matchroom said it will try to make a case for a limited live crowd at the O2 Arena.

"Without the fans something huge is missing," Joshua said. "I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in. Dec. 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 Dec. 13 they are in their rightful place in the U.K.

"I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation."

Joshua and Pulev each has only one professional loss: Joshua to Andy Ruiz last year, and Pulev to Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.

"For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment," Pulev said. "This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world."

Joshua will be aiming to put away Pulev and set up a title unification bout against WBC champion Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster next year.

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