Hearn rules out placing Joshua vs. Pulev behind closed doors

03/17/2020 - By Will Arons - Comments

Eddie Hearn has ruled out staging IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s title defense against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev behind closed doors in order to guarantee the fight happens in 2020.

With the coronavirus potentially making it impossible to stage any fights involving large crowds for the remainder of the year, moving the Joshua-Pulev fight behind closed doors inside of a studio is an option that would seem to make sense. Hearn isn’t willing to entertain that idea. He says he’s ready to sit and wait until the fights involving large crowds can take place.

Coronavirus could stay around for a LONG time

Just how long Hearn is willing to have his fighters sit and wait for the coronavirus to disappear into the history bin is the magic question. If the virus stays around as long as the 1918 Spanish Flu or the 2009 Swine Flu pandemics, Hearn’s fighters could be sitting out of the ring for 1.5 to 3 years while waiting.

Those were the last two pandemics the world experienced, and they both stuck around for a long, long time sickening people and killing them.

Hearn: Marquee name fighters have to fight in front of crowds

“For me, the big marquee events have to take place in front of a crowd,” said Hearn to Sky Sports Boxing when asked if he would be willing to stage the Joshua vs. Pulev fight behind closed doors. “This is a dangerous fight, and this isn’t a scripted sport like the WWE.

“This is a sport where fighters have to peak at key moments to produce great moments. We had a situation where I was speaking to Adam Booth about Joshua Kelly who WAS fighting David Avansyan on March 28th [before it was postponed] and I started talking to him about fighting behind closed doors.

“It was almost like the moment of his career so far. We have to get this right, and we have to get this performance right. I’m not sure we can do that behind closed doors. It doesn’t have that same intensity and that same energy,” said Hearn.

It sounds like Hearn has an old school mentality when it comes to his thought process about how boxing events should take place. Is Hearn willing to have Joshua sit idle for 1.5 to 3 years waiting for the coronavirus to mutate to a harmless state?

Yeah, we all would like to see boxing events take place in front of large groups of fans, but right now that’s just not going to happen. It’s too dangerous. As we saw in the cruise ship that ended up with a massive amount of people sick, it only a short period of time before people contracted coronavirus.

Hearn: We have to WAIT for the resumption of live events

“I think on some shows we can provide content behind closed doors,” said Hearn. “But as soon as the British Boxing Board of Control said that we can’t guarantee you the right medical staff and the safety of the fighters in that respect, the studio option goes out the window as well.

“We have to wait for the resumption of live events and not just boxing, but all sports. This is a huge blow for so many different people, of course.

“Personally for people affected by the virus, businesses and of course, the sport as well. You talk bout the athletes and talent in the sport as well,” said Hearn.

Right now, Hearn is saying ‘We have to wait’, but will he still be whistling the same tune after Joshua, Dillian Whyte, and Oleksandr Usyk have been sitting on the sidelines for 3 years, complaining like mad and unable to fight due to the limits on crowd size? Unless Hearn has a way of circumventing the crowd size limits in the UK and the U.S, he may need to stage the fights behind closed doors.

Once the other promoters start staging their events behind closed doors, don’t be surprised if Hearn follows along in lockstep fashion.