China and Singapore are both in the conversation to host a world heavyweight title unification bout between British rivals Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury－possibly as early as late May.
With COVID-19 cases in the UK rising sharply and boxing put on pause, Eddie Hearn, CEO of Matchroom Promotions, is looking for a foreign country to stage the megafight between IBF/WBA/WBO champ Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and unbeaten WBC titleholder Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs).
Representatives of the two camps are currently in talks to finalize a two-fight series for the second half of this year.
Hearn told IFL TV on the weekend there is already a verbal deal in place, with a 50-50 financial split for the first fight.
"I think it's heating up nicely. The mind games are starting. AJ is working tirelessly away in London and I think Tyson has gone to Miami to train. I think AJ will be going somewhere to train soon as well," said Hearn.
"I think everything is great. There have been conversations every day for the past two weeks. A lot of the traveling I've been doing lately has been looking at where that fight can be staged as well. It could be in Asia... Singapore maybe, or possibly China.
"We're in the position now of drafting paperwork to try to move forward on it, but I think from a pandemic point of view it's difficult because the world is changing every day. One minute something is opening, another something is closing. But the fight is planned for the end of May or early June and I don't see anything getting in the way of it.
"We've been drafting contracts. It's not signed, but the deal has been agreed for a long time and we've confirmed it in writing. I feel like the fight is virtually there, to be honest with you. We're in the final stages of everything that's got to be worked out."
Hearn said he expects to have the location nailed down and a broadcasting deal done by early February.
In an earlier interview with the Daily Mail, the promoter said he needs to stage the fight in a country with the financial means to pay a massive site fee to cover the purses for Joshua and Fury, which could top $100 million each.
"Even before this current situation there was no guarantee that we would do the first fight in the UK because it was almost impossible that we would get clearance to have, say, 90,000 at Wembley in late May," said Hearn.
"Now it is far, far more likely that it will be abroad. There have been a lot of conversations between both sides in the past couple of weeks and we're optimistic that we can tie up everything very soon."
Meanwhile, Joshua told Sky Sports on the weekend that he's already looking forward to retiring from the ring.
After winning Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games, Joshua turned pro in October 2013.
"This isn't the start of my career. I'm coming towards the end of my career," said the 31-year-old. "I'm not someone who lives in the moment and thinks that everything is just like for now. I'm always planning ahead, so I'm coming towards the end of my career.
"I think I have five years left, and that's basically an Olympic cycle. I've got an Olympic cycle and maybe a little bit more, so when you see the next Olympics happen is when I'll be coming to the end of my career and the next generation will be coming through."
In his only fight in 2020, Joshua knocked out previously unbeaten Bulgarian contender Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds at London's Wembley Arena on Dec 12.