ANTHONY JOSHUA aims to beat bitter rival Tyson Fury to the coronavirus comeback punch.
Lockdown wrecked AJ’s June 20 defence against Kubrat Pulev and Fury’s third showdown with Deontay Wilder in July.
Both Brit heavyweights are now waiting for the all-clear on fans being allowed back into arenas.
And the race is on to see which fighter gets in the ring first in December.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn admits they plan to upstage the Gypsy King.
Matchroom boss Hearn said: “It looks like Fury vs Wilder 3 is December 19, so we will most likely go on December 5 or 12, to give ourselves as much time as possible.
“AJ would probably want to go at the end of October or middle or November.
“But, for the sake of three or four extra weeks of training, it isn’t worth rushing.
“You need to remember you are only going to box once this year.
“AJ’s good, he gets it. He knows the numbers that he would have got for boxing in June.”
Joshua was eager to fight on one of Hearn’s four Fight Camp back-garden shows that are kicking off on Saturday night.
But Watford’s WBA, IBF and WBO king rakes in around £5million in ticket sales per show.
And even his mega-money sponsorship deals could never fill that void.
Hearn, who in June helped broker terms for a potential 2021 clash between AJ and Fury, explained: “He’s not suffering for a few quid.
“So AJ needs to progress his career in the right way and, more importantly, prepare for the Tyson Fury fight.
“Pulev, coming off a year lay-off, is really good preparation for Fury.
“Not stylistically, but just to get in with a big heavyweight, get that big momentum, hopefully score a big knockout and move forward into that fight in 2021.
“We would have taken £5m on the gate, so now there is a £5m hole in the AJ fight.
“How are we going to get round that? Pulev take less? AJ take less? Maybe condense the card a little bit?
“Maybe get 2,000 people in somewhere to pay premium-price seats?”
AJ held his rematch win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia and Hearn himself has a partnership with the controversial state.
But, until they get better Covid-19 results, the Essex salesman is considering all other options.
That includes the Fight Island concept UFC just used in Abu Dhabi.
Hearn said: “I am in discussions with somewhere and it is not dissimilar to Fight Island.
“But, at the moment, anywhere in the world has a problem — even, using an example, Saudi.
“They were due to hold major events this year, but at the moment they are not looking to do that until early next year.
“It would be quite nice to not worry about the pressures of the crowd for AJ and just do it in a territory that is up for investing in a site fee.
“But all the countries are not at a stage where they can confidently say, ‘Yes, we will make an investment for a November or December fight as we know we’ll be fine’.
“We are still in the land of, ‘It’s looking good, but let’s just see’. The same as here.”