ANTHONY JOSHUA is in line to face Kubrat Pulev on December 5 or 12 as Eddie Hearn plans to approach the government about fans returning.
The unified champion, 30, has not fought since beating Andy Ruiz Jr, also 30, in Saudi Arabia last December.
He was due to defend his titles against 39-year-old Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in June – until the coronavirus pandemic KO’d the heavyweight headliner.
But promoter Hearn warns AJ could make his ring return by the end of the year – and possibly in front of his beloved supporter.
He told Sky Sports: “Firstly, anything can happen.
“But right now as we stand here the plan is Kubrat Pulev. We’re looking at December 5th or 12th.
“I believe we can start approaching the government in September about starting to bring fans through the doors again.
“We believe that will happen in greater depth in October.”
Hearn already hinted the O2 Arena – where Joshua has not boxed in since 2016 – was the front runner to host his comeback bout.
But whether a crowd is in attendance or not, the WBA, IBF and WBO king will not wait around, having been desperate to step between the ropes again.
Hearn said: “Anthony needs to fight.
“Of course, you always want to maximise the money involved in any fight but also Anthony is a real advocate in improvement, in learning, in gaining experience.
“To go more than a year without a fight, although it’s not his fault, isn’t really good for the development of any fighter.
“So he’s back in early camp right now, I think it won’t be long until he’s in full camp in Sheffield with Rob McCracken when we wrap up those finer details.”