Andy Ruiz Jr ‘blessed’ to be in Saudi Arabia ahead of Anthony Joshua December rematch

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Andy Ruiz Jr in Ad Diriyah. The fighter said his clash with Anthony Joshua in the Kingdom will be a "historic fight". (Supplied)
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Reigning world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. speaking ahead of his press conference in Saudi Arabia for his world heavyweight title rematch with Anthony Joshua in the Kingdom. (AN Photo)
Updated 05 September 2019

Andy Ruiz Jr ‘blessed’ to be in Saudi Arabia ahead of Anthony Joshua December rematch

  • Arab News interviewed Ruiz before the press conference began
  • Ruiz ‘pleased’ to hear about fanbase in the Kingdom

AD DIRIYAH: When you’re 6ft 2in tall, with a fighting weight of 120kg and a punch like a battering ram, no one is likely to complain if you change your mind.

Mexican boxer Andy Ruiz Jr. vowed last month that he would never set foot in Saudi Arabia for his world heavyweight title rematch with Britain’s Anthony Joshua, suggesting that the fight was going to take place in the US.

MATCH PREVIEW: ‘Clash on the Dunes’ will make boxing history, vow Ruiz, Joshua

And now? “I’m feeling really blessed being over here,” he told Arab News in an interview on Wednesday as preparations began for the fight in Ad Diriyah, on the outskirts of Riyadh, on 7 December.

“It’s something different. A lot of people were saying there was a lot of political stuff and all that, but to tell you the truth it’s a lovely place, a beautiful place, a place of history.

“I’m part of history now, and I’m gonna make history here. Having a big fight in a big venue in Saudi Arabia, it’s amazing.”

Ruiz surprised the boxing world when he dethroned Joshua in the seventh round of their first fight in New York in June, becoming Mexico’s first heavyweight champion. Now he can’t wait for the “Clash on the Dunes” rematch. “It’s gonna be an amazing show, not just for me, but for everyone who’s gonna be watching — my family, for all the fans, so I’m really excited to put on a good show,” he said.

“It’s gonna be one hell of a fight. A historic fight. I’m really happy to be here. You can’t miss it.”

Ruiz is even brushing up on his Arabic. “For sure when I come back, I’m gonna practice some more so when I talk to the media I can surprise them,” he said.


Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.