Anthony Joshua grateful for Saudi welcome ahead of Clash on the Dunes fight

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Anthony Joshua-Andy face media at Dec. 4 press conference. (Supplied)
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Anthony Joshua-Andy face off in front of finished Diriyah Arena. (Supplied)
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Anthony Joshua-Andy Face off at Dec. 4 press conference. (Supplied)
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Anthony Joshua poses with Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz (L) after the press conference in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Anthony Joshua-Andy face media at Dec. 4 press conference. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2019

Anthony Joshua grateful for Saudi welcome ahead of Clash on the Dunes fight

  • Joshua and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn praised the welcome they had received in the Kingdom
  • The British fighter admitted he has felt “different” since losing to Ruiz in New York in June

RIYADH: World heavyweight challenger Anthony Joshua was full of praise for Saudi Arabia as he said he was fully prepared for his bout with reigning champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in Diriyah on Saturday.
The British fighter admitted he has felt “different” since losing to Ruiz in New York in June, but sent a powerful message to the Mexican-American during the intense first face off of the week in Saudi Arabia.
“I didn’t lose heart or fire in my belly,” Joshua said about losing to Ruiz Jr earlier this year. “There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or my mind.
“I didn’t lose any commitment. There was a big change and a big shift in the division so it definitely feels different. I turn this stuff into a positive otherwise it will eat you up, and will fold into a way that I don’t want it to go.
“I had to own the situation and make it work for me,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference.
Ruiz Jr. entered the Riyadh conference wearing the same New York Knicks jersey he wore in the press conference ahead of their first fight six months ago, during which Joshua let Ruiz hold the championship belts.
Having taken them permanently in a victory that shocked the boxing world, Ruiz Jr. did not extend the courtesy to his challenger.
“You always need a challenger’s mind-set. I said that with the belts around my waist,” Joshua said.
“Hungry, determined, focused on the goal.
“Will it be a special moment (if Ruiz wins)? No because I know I belong there. When I regain the belts I will keep cool, and keep a challenger’s mind-set and move onto the next target.”

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Ruiz Jr. replied: “AJ will come with a different game-plan and I know he is prepared, so I will be more cautious.
“He lost weight and will try to box me around.
“I don’t want to let these beautiful belts go. Now that I finally made my dreams come true, there is no way I will let them go.”
Joshua and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn praised the welcome they had received in the Kingdom and the quality of the facilities for their preparation.
“It’s a complete change and a new dawn for the sport of boxing and we cannot thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Skills Challenge Entertainment and the General Sports Authority enough for everything they have done,” Hearn said.
“They have kept their word on everything they said they would do.”
Anthony Joshua told Arab News being in the Kingdom has helped him feel relaxed ahead of his do-or-die clash in Diriyah.
“I feel relaxed, I’m a frequent traveler to the Middle East, especially with my family here, the food’s been good and I love the sun.

 We’ve got a big event on Saturday, I’ll be competing for the world heavyweight title and this will be the time I’ll become two-time heavyweight champion of the world.”
When asked what his favorite part of being in Saudi Arabia was, he added: “I would say the weather, I just love the sun — I’m a sun baby — I need that sunshine and energy so I’m happy to be here. You could put me anywhere, but Saudi sun is good sun.”
The former world heavyweight champion has even been picking up some Arabic during his trip to the Kingdom.
“The main one (Arabic word) is ‘Inshallah’ — this is what I’m saying, ‘Inshallah’ we will be seeing a win from me on Saturday.”
And Joshua was grateful for the opportunity to learn about a new part of the world while trying to reclaim his belts and become a two-time world heavyweight champion.
“I made sure when I came here, you have to claim the land and you have to take part in the land, I’ve learned about old Diriyah, I went to a local school and I’ve mixed with the local people — I think it’s important to do so, rather than just tucking yourself away as I love to learn about new cultures,” he told Arab News.
“Thank you for hosting me Saudi, for being so welcoming, it’s good to be here and I don’t think it will be my last time.”


Bayern eager to stop Super Cup becoming virus hotbed

Updated 23 September 2020

Bayern eager to stop Super Cup becoming virus hotbed

  • Up to 20,000 spectators would be allowed by UEFA into Budapest’s Puskas Arena in a piloting project to test the return of fans into stadiums
  • Bayern legend Rummenigge anticipates “less than a thousand” Bayern fans will actually make the journey and only around 500 Sevilla fans are expected

BERLIN: Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists the German giants want to prevent Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup showdown in Budapest turning into a super spreader event due to a high Covid-19 infection rate in the Hungarian capital.
On Monday, Bavaria premier Markus Soeder warned against the fixture becoming a “football-Ischgl,” referring to the Austrian ski resort where thousands of holidaymakers were infected with the virus at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe.
“I really get a stomach ache when it comes to the Super Cup” Soeder added of Bayern’s game against Europa League holders Sevilla in a coronavirus red zone.
Rummenigge echoed Soeder’s comments on Wednesday, insisting Bayern Munich have “every interest in ensuring that no Ischgl of football takes place” in Budapest.
“I think everyone’s stomachs are churning. The game will take place in a city with a rate of infection of over 100 (per 100,000 inhabitants), which is twice as high as that in Munich,” Rummenigge told broadcaster ZDF.
“That has to be taken seriously.”
Up to 20,000 spectators would be allowed by UEFA into Budapest’s Puskas Arena in a piloting project to test the return of fans into stadiums.
However, Budapest’s mayor Gergely Karacsony wants the game played without fans.
“If I had the legal means to decide that, I would let the game take place behind closed doors,” he told Hungarian newspaper Nepszava.
The Hungarian FA (MLSZ) released a statement Wednesday saying the “Puskas Arena will be safer than any other place in the country.”
The MLSZ pointed out that Sevilla and Bayern fans can only enter the stadium after “strict health checks,” will be kept seperate and “will not meet with Hungarian fans.”
Rummenigge anticipates “less than a thousand” Bayern fans will actually make the journey and only around 500 Sevilla fans are expected.
“We have a great interest that they come back healthy and that nobody in Budapest gets infected,” emphasised Rummenigge.
He has promised a “serious and disciplined” approach with both Bayern and Sevilla offering traveling fans Covid-19 tests.
The Bayern chief also pointed out that to “all those who say that you really have to be extremely careful with the subject. We are.”
Bayern initially had an allocation of 4,500 tickets but hundreds of fans opted not to travel after the German government declared Budapest a risk zone.
European champions Bayern are also flying to Budapest with a small delegation of officials after being heavily criticized when a group of senior figures sat bunched together in the stands for Friday’s 8-0 rout of Schalke.
Rummenigge was among the group not wearing masks and seated close together in the VIP stand for the opening game of the new Bundesliga season.
“At the next game we will keep the desired distance and wear masks, no problem,” said the 64-year-old.