Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua II: Eddie Hearn says heavyweight title fight in Saudi Arabia could change boxing forever

Eddie Hearn
Eddie Hearn

Eddie Hearn claims Anthony Joshua's world heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia could change boxing forever.

The bout, dubbed 'Clash on the Dunes', will see Joshua bid to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles which Ruiz Jr took from him in a stunning upset at Madison Square Garden in June, and will take place on December 7.

Amnesty International has criticised the choice of Saudi Arabia for the fight, citing human rights violations, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the ongoing war in Yemen.

But Matchroom boss Hearn defended the controversial choice of venue, pointing out the other high-profile sports to have taken place in the country.

At a press conference to confirm the rematch at London's Savoy Hotel, promoter Hearn said: "There has been a lot of talk about where this fight would be held.

"For us we wanted to go somewhere that believed in the sport of boxing, who had a vision.

"We have to realise there is a world outside of Cardiff and Madison Square Garden. This event could change boxing forever. You could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport.

"There is time for change there, and they are trying to make that change through sport.

"People think you can't get into Saudi Arabia, or that women aren't welcome to the show. Men and women are welcome. If you buy a ticket you get an automatic visa, and it's six hours away.

"We understand some criticism but we also understand the people that have been there before us - organisations that are considerably bigger than us.

"Look at the events held there before us - Formula One, the European golf tour, the Italian Super Cup, WWE. It will be an iconic moment for boxing."

The neutral venue was at the request of Ruiz Jr, who did not want to fight in Britain.

The bout, the latest high-profile boxing event to be held in the country after Amir Khan's victory over Australian Billy Dib in July, will take place in Diriyah, a town on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Hearn revealed the fight will air at around 9pm UK time.

He added: "When we realised Saudi Arabia was serious about boxing we looked into the logistical side and that blew our mind as well.

"This will go down as one of the great fights, alongside the Rumble in the Jungle, the Thrilla in Manila.

"This is Anthony Joshua trying to regain his world title. AJ must win. With curiosity the whole word will be watching this fight."

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Check out Monday's racing preview1

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Lambeth Walk her best bet of the day at Ripon on Monday - she has a selection for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Sporting Life's NAP of the day2

Daily Nap: Don't be Impatient

Richard Mann heads to Chepstow for Sporting Life's Nap of the day on Monday - check out the details here.

Rory McIlroy on his way to the FedEx Cup3

McIlroy the $15million man

Rory McIlroy landed a $15million payday with his second FedEx Cup victory in the space of four years, as he produced a dominant final round in the TOUR Championship.

Jack Leach rushes to congratulate Ben Stokes4

Stokes special draws England level

Ben Stokes produced a breathtaking unbeaten century to drag England to a one-wicket victory over Australia on a pulsating fourth day of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley.

Joelinton scores for Newcastle against Tottenham5

Joelinton lifts the Toon gloom

Joelinton's goal stunned Spurs as Newcastle lifted some of the gloom around Steve Bruce with a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Most Read

Check out Monday's racing preview1

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Lambeth Walk her best bet of the day at Ripon on Monday - she has a selection for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Sporting Life's NAP of the day2

Daily Nap: Don't be Impatient

Richard Mann heads to Chepstow for Sporting Life's Nap of the day on Monday - check out the details here.

Rory McIlroy on his way to the FedEx Cup3

McIlroy the $15million man

Rory McIlroy landed a $15million payday with his second FedEx Cup victory in the space of four years, as he produced a dominant final round in the TOUR Championship.

Jack Leach rushes to congratulate Ben Stokes4

Stokes special draws England level

Ben Stokes produced a breathtaking unbeaten century to drag England to a one-wicket victory over Australia on a pulsating fourth day of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley.

Joelinton scores for Newcastle against Tottenham5

Joelinton lifts the Toon gloom

Joelinton's goal stunned Spurs as Newcastle lifted some of the gloom around Steve Bruce with a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Racing Tips

Check out Monday's racing preview

Monday's racing preview

Anita Chambers makes Lambeth Walk her best bet of the day at Ripon on Monday - she has a selection for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Sporting Life's NAP of the day

Daily Nap: Don't be Impatient

Richard Mann heads to Chepstow for Sporting Life's Nap of the day on Monday - check out the details here.

Justin Thomas celebrates

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in August 2019.

Next Race Off

09:25 Hyderabad
6
(4)
Nova Scotia
J: Akshay Kumar
11
(10)
Surseine
J: P Sai Kumar
9
(8)
Aristocrats Charm
J: Surya Prakash

Football Tips

Justin Thomas celebrates

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in August 2019.

All of Sporting Life's current best bets across a range of sports

Our best bets

Check out Sporting Life's best bets across racing, football and more.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Super Sunday: Spurs set to shine

More Premier League games on Sunday to get stuck into and we're backing Spurs to inflict more misery on Steve Bruce's Newcastle.