Three-Time Heavyweight Champion Joshua Anthony Can’t Defend His Title in June

From the PGA to the Olympics, COVID-19 has forced many long-standing sports to cancel events. The boxing world is feeling the heat as well. The much-awaited fight between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev scheduled for June 20 was canceled. CBS Sports reports that the two heavyweight boxers will still fight. But the match will be rescheduled, and fans will have to wait.

Anthony Joshua’s career and records

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Joshua didn’t start out as a boxer. According to The Famous People, his first sport of choice was football. It wasn’t until he entered his late teens that he began to box, and his career immediately began to take off. Undefeated in his early years, Joshua soon represented the United Kingdom in the 2012 Olympics, where he brought home a gold medal. 

In 2013 Joshua became a professional boxer, and is still going strong.  According to BoxRec, Joshua has fought 24 bouts, 103 rounds, and has an 87.5% KO record. Out of those 24 bouts, he has only lost one fight to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019. He was later able to redeem this loss against Ruiz in December of 2019, and reclaim his WBA, IBF and WBO championship belts. 

Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev title bout

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Now that Joshua has reclaimed his titles, he’s looking toward the future and his next big match against Pulev, which has been in the making for a few years now. The two originally scheduled to face off in the ring in 2017, but Pulev was unable to fight due to an injury. It’s taken him three years, but he finally has his chance at Joshua again, and also a shot at the heavyweight titles. 

BoxRec reports that Pulev has fought 29 bouts, gone 203 rounds, and has a KO rating of 48.28%. Like Joshua, he has only ever lost one match, so fans are eager to see which of these two fighters will have their second loss. 

Anthony Joshua’s fight has been postponed due to COVID-19 

Many fans may be wondering why the event couldn’t take place as scheduled, and merely show it on television with no live viewers. According to Deadline, the WWE is still filming shows, just without the live audience. So why couldn’t the boxing world do the same thing? 

Pulev certainly wanted to, telling The Mirror, “There’s no problem (if the fight is) to be without spectators. Everyone would be at home, they can pay per view, so I don’t see any problem financially. The show could be lost a bit without fans but it can still happen. After all, it’s a world championship, which must take place.”

It sounds good, but with the shut down of gyms, closed borders, and mandatory social distancing, it makes training difficult for many athletes. CBS Sports furthered clarified things by stating, “With fighters unable to train or travel as normal, preparation for a world championship bout is difficult at best and impossible at worst.”

Athletes like Patrick Mahomes have found ways to train in spite of not being able to go to a training facility, but the travel is probably what is really hampering this fight. It was scheduled to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, and while The Financial Times reports that Britain has not closed its borders, it’s one of the few countries that has not. Add in social distancing, and the fight will not take place until COVID-19 has begun to die down.