Klitschko wants Joshua rematch to be outside UK
Britain’s heavyweight champ faces first foreign fight, with Las Vegas and Nigeria favourites to stage part two
Las Vegas, China, Dubai and Nigeria are the four possible venues for the eagerly-awaited rematch between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
The British fighter beat Klitschko in a dramatic contest at Wembley Stadium in April to win the IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight titles and, according to the Daily Mirror, the Ukrainian is running scared of returning to the United Kingdom for the rematch.
Promoter Barry Hearn had reserved the Principality Stadium in Cardiff for the fight on 28 October but that venue now looks unlikely.
"The next two weeks will settle it," said Hearn. "I believe Klitschko will do it if it’s abroad, but I don’t think he wants to box in Cardiff. I think he feels he’s done that."
Hearn said that Klitschko "enjoyed" fighting in front of 90,000 British fans at Wembley but he would prefer the bout to take place outside Britain.
"He wants it to be a big event," said Hearn. "I don’t think a bit more money makes any difference to him. It could be Vegas, it could be Nigeria. But the logistics are much more straightforward with Vegas."
Klitschko will also be aware that staging the fight outside the UK would also take Joshua outside his comfort zone. The champion has fought all his bouts on home soil since turning pro in 2013, predominantly in England, with one fight in Scotland and one in Wales.
The Sun says that while Las Vegas is the favourite to stage the fight, there are "two mega-money offers" on Hearn's table from Nigeria, where Joshua's mother was born and his father’s family are from.
"We have had two approaches to stage it in the capital Abuja and we are going through the contracts," said Hearn. "Some of the offers we have received have been huge. It’s a lot more money to box outside of UK. "
Hearn said that Dubai and China had also submitted offers to host the event but that his preference would be to head to the States.
"Vegas would be great for British boxing because they don’t really get the intense atmosphere at fights and we could take that atmosphere with us," said Hearn. "And speaking selfishly from my own point of view, to create a huge fight in Vegas is on my bucket list."
But the promoter acknowledged that Joshua has a soft spot for fighting in Nigeria. "I asked AJ how did he feel about fighting in Abuja and it was 'Yeah, that’s not been done before. I could be the first guy to do that.'"
If a venue can't be agreed with Klitschko for the rematch then Joshua’s mandatory IBF defence will be against Bulgarian fighter Kubrat Pulev on 28 October at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.