ANTHONY JOSHUA will keep fighting to have fans in the lion’s den for his homecoming O2 showdown with Kubrat Pulev on December 12.
The mandatory defence of his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against the Bulgarian has been confirmed for the iconic Greenwich venue.
Joshua and his team are fighting to have fans present for his December fight with Pulev.
Joshua hasn’t fought in front of fans in the UK since beating Alexander Povetkin in September 2018.
AJ’s Matchroom promoters are campaigning for the Government to let a small section of fans attend his long-awaited return, after two years away dealing with Andy Ruiz Jr and the Covid-19 lockdown.
And the fighting pride of London 2012 – with the Team GB big cat emblem tattooed on the base of his neck – is battling to have some supporters roaring him on.
The 31-year-old champ said: “December 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 December 13, they are in their rightful place in the UK.
“The O2 is the original lion’s den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing.
“I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in but we will have to see.
“I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
Pulev had to pull out of the original 2017 showdown through injury and has quietly waited for his turn to come around again.
But the delay means his beloved father Venko will not be there to watch him try to become the most celebrated Bulgarian alive.
Since beating Povetkin, Joshua has fought Ruiz twice – once in the US and once in Saudi Arabia
However, Pulev, 39-year-old said: “For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the heavyweight titles is a great accomplishment.
“This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the heavyweight championship of the world.”
An AJ win should springboard him into a 2021 all-English undisputed decider with WBC champ Tyson Fury.
But legendary matchmaker Bob Arum, who promotes both Pulev and the Gypsy King, has other ideas, saying Joshua’s promoter: “Eddie Hearn better watch out.
“Kubrat Pulev is going to destroy his plan for a Joshua-Tyson Fury unification fight.”