Promoter Frank Warren has said it looks likely the clash between unbeaten British heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will be pushed back from Oct. 24.
Warren wants a crowd to attend the fight at the O2 in London, but fans have not been able to attended boxing events since March in the United Kingdom due to government restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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Dubois-Joyce has already been pushed back from both April and July, but Warren is now considering moving the event to November.
“It’s looking like we will move it,” Warren told ESPN.
“I don’t think there will be any live gates allowed into the O2 on that October date, so we will move it to a later date.”
Even if the British government allows the return of reduced crowds at sports events, the promoter fears it may not be enough to enable some of the bigger match-ups to happen.
Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce had been due to fight in April and July but both fights were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Alex Davidson/Getty Images
“We need a crowd and anything is better than nothing. With the York Hall for instance, if you are only allowed 20%, so that’s a crowd of 300,” he said.
“There’s no value in that, and there’s no value in a crowd of 1,000 for a big fight. We would fill the O2 for Dubois-Joyce, 20% of that is 4,000 and that’s not great but it’s better than nothing and gives us some income.
“At the moment, you can only run shows to a certain level, and we will continue to put on shows [behind closed doors], otherwise the sport will be finished. Anything can happen in two months, so it’s really difficult at the moment.
“If we knew we could get a crowd, we would move it back further, but it’s also what the fighters want to do. It’s a moving target, that’s the problem, and we’re all adjusting.”
Warren has two shows without fans lined up: WBA-IBF world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor against Apinun Khongsong on Sep. 26, and British middleweight champion Liam Williams against Andrew Robinson on Oct. 10.
Dubois-Joyce would normally be one of the biggest boxing events of the year in the U.K. London rivals Dubois (15-0, 14 KOs), 23, and Joyce (11-0, 10 KOs), 34, have both knocked out all but one of their professional opponents and are closing in on the global heavyweight elite.
Warren’s rival, British promoter Eddie Hearn, has also been staging boxing events behind closed doors, and hopes to have a limited crowd in attendance for events taking place in the autumn. WBA-IBF-WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is due to defend his belts against Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12, and Hearn insists that fight will happen with or without fans.
Warren is still waiting to hear from Hearn about a proposed meeting to collaborate on fights next year, including the possibility of Joshua against WBC champion Tyson Fury and unbeaten light-heavyweights Anthony Yarde and Joshua Buatsi.
“I’m not chasing that any more, I’ve made the effort,” he added.
“There’s a few fights we could work on including the big one between the heavyweights. There has been a lot of talk [about Fury versus Joshua next year], but any movement will only happen when we sit down and talk about it.”