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AJ v Pulev

May 21, 2020

Pulev Tells That He’s Ready to Fight Behind Closed Doors as Boxing Attempts to Return

Boxing is plotting its return, as a “new normal” appears on the horizon.

And Bulgarian heavyweight with Kubrat Pulev has told that he is looking forward to getting his planned bout against champion Anthony Joshua back on track.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen live sport decimated across the globe, with table tennis and webcam darts leading the way over the past couple of months.

Change is scary but necessary. As soon as governments across the world give boxing the green light, a race will ensue for fighters, promoters, managers, and all involved in the sport to clamber back to their feet and agree to box on.

Events are expected to be staged behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, with promoters tasked with providing the best, and safest, content for fans unable to attend.

UFC 249 provided a blueprint for boxing. Dana White’s bullish response to the pandemic has received praise and criticism in equal measure, with his role as the guinea pig a considerable benefit to boxing’s contingency planning.

How Will Boxing be Forced to Adapt in the Coming Months?

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, has been briefing the media the past week on how he expects boxing to return in the UK.

Smith expects a higher level of safety precautions reached than the show seen in Nicaragua a couple of weeks back, with the use and availability of PPE essential for boxing’s restart.

Testing fighters, their teams and sparring partners will all prove logistical hurdles along with sourcing a sterilized environment to fight.

Still, Smith seems determined to get the necessary measures in place as soon as possible.

The USA is governed by individual States, so a return to boxing seems a lot closer across the Atlantic with Las Vegas and Florida already rumoured to be hosting events in the near future.

Pulev Willing to Forgo Gate Revenue in Fight Without Fans

Fighting behind closed doors, without fans, is likely to last until the end of the year, with the money fighters receive in their purses negatively affected.

With the lack of “gate” income due to the absence of fans, revenue will be based purely on TV money and sponsorships.

Eddie Hearn has recently predicted that Joshua’s next heavyweight world title fight with Pulev (initially scheduled for June 20) could rake in at least $10 million on the gate.

Still, Pulev seems willing to take the financial hit as long as he can get the fight.

“I can’t wait for the match to start. I believe that it’s possible to have a fight without people in the stands. It will even be fiercer. And much more interesting for the TV audience. I’m playing this fight to win it,” the Bulgarian told us.

Top Rank and Matchroom Leading the Way

Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing are leading the way in trying to restart boxing shows at the top level.

Arum recently stated that his promotional company are working with commissions in Nevada, California and Texas with the hope to put shows on behind closed doors.

There will be a need for constant testing of everyone involved in these events. Still, Arum envisages a way forward, with Shakur Stevenson vs Rafael Rivera the rumoured opening bout, planned for June 9.

Matchroom Boxing will have to liaise with the British Boxing Board of Control, but their idea of hosting a “Fight Camp” at their headquarters in Essex is growing momentum.

Fighters and trainers will be housed together in a sterile environment, with fights taking place in a purpose-built ring in the field out the back.

Hearn is hoping to start at the back-end of July, running for four consecutive weeks putting on between four and five fights each weekend.

What Markets are Available to Bet On?

Despite boxing’s hiatus, there are still markets available to bet on.

Mariusz Wach vs Kevin Johnson is an obvious starting point. This heavyweight contest turned heads on its announcement a few weeks back, as Poland hosts a fight between two ageing and lower-tier heavyweights on June 12.

In an attempt to squeeze some money out of a desolate boxing schedule, this fight is landing on pay-per-view.

At 1/33 with Bet365, Wach is a huge favourite, and shouldn’t have too many problems getting rid of the 40-year-old who has lost eight of his last ten bouts.

Markets are also still available on some of the fights we could be viewing behind closed doors, originally scheduled for June/July.

At 2/5 with Paddy Power, Katie Taylor is a great price to beat the seasoned Amanda Serrano in their unified lightweight title bout. Taylor is unbeaten as a pro and has stayed in training camp during this period.

Eddie Hearn has stated his hunger to put Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin on his “Fight Camp” shows. Povetkin is on the slide in the heavyweight scene – a price of 1/4 for Dillian Whyte to beat the Russian is a good option with Betvictor.

Markets are also available for Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce and Jamel Herring vs Carl Frampton, but these fights are expected to come a little later in the summer.