Anthony Joshua Tops Andy Ruiz Jr. In Saudi Arabia Bout
Anthony Joshua "toyed with an out-of-shape Andy Ruiz Jr. over 12 unspectacular rounds to win a unanimous points decision" in a fight that "played out against a backdrop of concerns that Saudi Arabia was using this and other big sporting events to divert attention from its human-rights violations," according to Steve Douglas of the AP. Women in attendance at the outdoor, purpose-built, 15,000-capacity Diriyah Arena on Saturday "did not appear to be segregated, as they have been in sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia since being allowed into them for the first time" in '18. Once the fight was underway, it "felt just like any other venue" (AP, 12/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole wrote after Ruiz weighed in 15 pounds heavier than the first fight, imagine what the Saudis who put up more than $100M to stage this event "felt to see a guy in the biggest fight of his life not even act as if he'd cared." Iole: "Imagine what fans who paid thousands to fly across the world, to purchase tickets, to pay for hotel rooms, feel" after Joshua's win. This was a "con job," and Ruiz "defrauded the public by not even trying to get into shape" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/7).
DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joe Flint noted DAZN seems to have decided that boxing content will "serve it better as a marketing tool, rather than something to be kept behind its paywall." This strategy to "give away programming is bringing attention to DAZN." The net's recent boxing documentary, "One Night," which profiles Ruiz' upset win over Joshua in June, has "more than 2.6 million views on YouTube since premiering two weeks ago." In the U.K., where Joshua is from, DAZN sold the rights to the "One Night" doc to the BBC. DAZN also often "cuts deals" with RSNs to "carry some of the preliminary bouts leading up to the big fight on its own services as a way to drive awareness and subscribers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/7).
SHOCK IN SAUDI: After the fight, Ruiz said, "I don't want to say that the three months of partying, celebrating affected me. But to tell you the truth, it kind of did." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joshua Robinson noted three years ago, a "show like Saturday night's would have been unthinkable" in Saudi Arabia. Women attended in large numbers, Western pop music "blared during every stoppage," and "surveying all of it while standing on a private terrace was the crown prince himself." However, for all of the "careful planning and boundless expanse that went into putting on this megafight, organizers overlooked one crucial detail: a roof." Just when the $60M bout "seemed like it couldn't get any more surprising, it started raining in the desert." The "downpour on the open-air arena lasted through most of the undercard fights" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/8).