Organizers Pay $100M To Host Ruiz-Joshua Rematch In Saudi Arabia
Andy Ruiz Jr. will defend his heavyweight titles in a rematch against Anthony Joshua in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7, with the organizers behind the event putting up $100M -- "beating out main rival Dubai -- to stage one of the biggest glamour division showdowns in years," according to Tom Gray of RING TV (8/9). ESPN.com's Dan Rafael noted the event is being dubbed "Clash on the Dunes." Diriyah is a city on the outskirts of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Sources said that the bout will "take place at a temporary outdoor stadium that will be erected solely to host the fight." Days after Ruiz' "massive upset" of Joshua on June 1, Joshua "exercised his right to an immediate rematch." Joshua's promoter, Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn, at the time said that the bout would "take place at either Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales," or at MSG. But in the end, the group from Saudi Arabia "agreed to put up far more money than could be generated" in either Cardiff or N.Y. Ruiz, who had no input on the site selection, had said that he was "uncomfortable having the rematch on Joshua's turf" in the U.K. (ESPN.com, 8/9).
MONEY TALKS: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole wrote many major sporting events have "begun to be hosted in Saudi Arabia, largely because of the enormous amounts of money the Saudis are offering to lure them to the kingdom." It is "easy for many to overlook the enormous human rights abuses and take the money, which is millions more than anyone else in the world was willing to put up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/9). Speaking at a press conference today, Hearn "dismissed concerns that women would not be able to travel to Saudi Arabia." He said that "everyone who bought a ticket would get a 30-day visa for the country" (THE GUARDIAN, 8/12).