Andy Ruiz Jr-Anthony Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia could ‘change boxing forever’

Updated 12 August 2019

Andy Ruiz Jr-Anthony Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia could ‘change boxing forever’

  • Promoter Eddie Hearn believes Kingdom has potential to host future high-profile events
  • Hearn praises vision and commitment of Saudi Arabia to the sport of boxing

LONDON: The Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua world heavyweight championship bout being held at a custom-built venue in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, has the potential to “change boxing forever,” according to fight promoter Eddie Hearn.

Having lost his three world heavyweight IBF, WBA and WBO titles after a shock loss to Ruiz in June, Joshua is seeking to reclaim the belts in the Kingdom on Dec. 7.

Speaking at the Savoy Hotel in London to officially announce the Kingdom as the location for the eagerly anticipated rematch, Hearn called the fight the “biggest of the year” with the potential to match the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in 1974, and the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975.

“There has been a lot of talk about where this fight would be held — we had approaches from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi,” Hearn said.

“For us, we really wanted to go somewhere that believed in the sport of boxing, who had a vision for the sport, and I was lucky enough to attend the World Super Series final in Jeddah. It was a fantastic event — not just the logistical set-up, but also the vibrancy of the crowd and the interest in the sport, so we already knew Saudi Arabia was keen to invest in the sport of boxing.

“We have an obligation to grow the sport in new areas and new regions, and for me, this event could change boxing forever,” he added.

Talking about the driving force behind the decision to choose Saudi Arabia as a location, Hearn admitted Ruiz wanted a neutral venue and would not fight in the UK, and said the attractive offer for the fighters from the Kingdom’s sporting authorities was a factor.

But he was full of praise of the potential for the Kingdom to be a top class boxing venue, using high-profile events to grow the sport at grassroots level.

“Anthony has always had the mindset of fighting all around the world, he’s been to this region before and he holidays not far away, and (was convinced) once he saw the vision, the stadium and the plans,” Hearn told Arab News.

“We are so naive if we think boxing is just Great Britain and America, and if Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region also decide to invest in boxing then the whole game is about to change.

“A lot of territories contacted us about one-off events, which would be the first time they have hosted boxing and they just wanted to do a massive event, it is different in Saudi Arabia.

“They have gyms in place, there is participation in the sport, they have staged other world championship events and, as a promoter, I want to be in there before everybody else.

“When we realized Saudi Arabia was serious about boxing we looked into the logistical side and that blew our mind as well,” he added.

Omar Khalil, the managing partner of Skill Challenge Entertainment — the group working with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing company — confirmed that fans who bought tickets for the fight would receive automatic entry visas to the Kingdom for 30 days.


Mohamed Salah misses Liverpool trip to Man Utd, Alisson Becker returns

Updated 20 October 2019

Mohamed Salah misses Liverpool trip to Man Utd, Alisson Becker returns

  • “Mo was not ready,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
  • Alisson has recovered from a calf injury to take his place in goal

MANCHESTER: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has not recovered from an ankle injury in time to face Manchester United on Sunday, but goalkeeper Alisson Becker is fit to make his first appearance since the opening weekend of the season.
Salah hobbled off late on in the European champions’ 2-1 victory over Leicester two weeks ago, but Jurgen Klopp is hopeful he can return for Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Genk.
“Mo was not ready,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “He could not train with the team.
“Pretty much (he had) no chance for today but maybe for Wednesday we will see.”
Alisson has recovered from a calf injury to take his place in goal and United also received a huge injury boost with the news that David de Gea is fit to start.
De Gea pulled up with a muscle injury in Spain’s 1-1 draw in Sweden on Tuesday, but has made a remarkable recovery to keep goal as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed his formation to a 3-5-2.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka also returns from injury to start at right wing-back, but Anthony Martial is only fit enough for a place on the bench.
Liverpool are aiming to restore their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with an 18th straight league win, while United kick off just one point above the relegation zone in 14th.