Croatia interested in hosting Anthony Joshua-Kubrat Pulev bout

Add the Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia, to the list of venues interested in hosting the heavyweight bout between unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua and challenger Kubrat Pulev.

"We have a very solid offer," CEO of Epic Sports and Entertainment Ivaylo Gotzev, who represents Pulev, told ESPN. "We're respecting [Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn's] position, and so he's doing his thing out there in the Middle East, exploring that.

"We all agreed to work up the best offer -- which doesn't exclude London if they change the rules. So far it doesn't look very positive to do it as originally planned."

Hearn, the head of Matchroom Sports, had originally scheduled the bout for June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the event was eventually canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We'll listen to all the offers that come in from all around the world," Hearn told ESPN on Tuesday. "The preference for this fight, and AJ's sole desire for this fight, is for it to take place in the U.K. Now, I'm not a big fan of AJ boxing behind closed doors, personally. Even if it's a smaller crowd, it's something we may have to consider.

"There have been a number of countries that have reached out to stage an Anthony Joshua fight. Croatia is one that has come from [the Pulev] side."

Hearn said he has received a half-dozen inquires about the fight from venues in various countries around the globe.

"So we'll definitely explore the options of where the fight should take place," Hearn said. "We still want to exhaust the U.K. first as our primary option. But we definitely are also considering the other venue options because he has to fight. I'm not prepared for him not to fight in 2020. That would be a whole year of his career he didn't fight. Ultimately, we'll review them all, and AJ will make a decision."

"The Pula Arena is an amphitheater that was built during the Roman Empire," Gotzev said. "It has some terrific history, that's where the real gladiators fought."

Currently the boxing business is in a standstill during the global pandemic, and when the sport finally resumes, questions abound about the parameters in which fight cards can be staged.

There is talk of events taking place with no live audiences. But that may not be financially realistic for certain promotions.

Can heavyweight title fights like this one, and the third matchup between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, be done without the revenue from eight-figure ticket sales?

"I don't know if anything is imperative, but certainly it becomes very, very difficult to do those fights without audience participation because the gates really contribute to a major part of the revenue," said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who added that Wilder-Fury II generated approximately $17 million at the box office.

"While nobody is saying we won't do [the fight] if there are no gate [revenues], you never say never, but again, it would be very, very hard to do it. So we're leaving no stone unturned in an attempt to find a solution that would enable us to do these fights with gates."