AS gladiatorial contests go in the 21st century, boxing is probably as near as you can get and it could well be that Britain’s triple heavyweight title holder Antony Joshua will soon be appearing in a Roman Amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia.
Having won back the WBA, WBO and IBF titles in December from Andy Ruiz Jr, Joshua has to meet a mandatory challenge for the IBF belt from the 38-year-old Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev and they were due to meet at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on June 20 but that has been postponed due to the coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic.
The British Boxing Board of Control has announced that it expects professional fights to resume in July of this year but without spectators and the fights promoter Eddie Hearn has indicated that he would not be happy to see the fight take place behind locked doors.
Pulev’s manager Ivaylo Gotsev has said that he and Joshua’s camp have been in discussion and although the British fighter will not travel to Bulgaria for the match, Pula in Croatia may be a good alternative venue.
It has its own airport, just outside of the city centre and is in the centre of Europe with decent infrastructures.
The Pula Arena is used to hosting big events such as sports and concerts and because of its layout would be suitable to host a good-sized audience subject to whatever social distancing is still required later this year.
If both camps and the promoter can reach an agreement then the fight could take place in Croatia as early as August or September.