‘This could change boxing forever’: Promoter defends Joshua-Ruiz rematch in Saudi Arabia

(CNN) — Muhammad Ali’s fights against George Foreman –“the Rumble in the Jungle” — and Joe Frazier — that the”Thrilla in Manila” — aided launch boxing’s heavyweight division in the international public’s consciousness.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is expecting the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.. In Saudi Arabia — even dubbed the”Clash of the Dunes” — could do the same and”alter boxing forever.”
The fight is due to be held in Diriyah, on the outskirts of Riyadh, on December 7.
Saudi Arabia has hosted a number of conflicts in recent times, such as Amir Khan’s triumph over Billy Dib, however Amnesty International UK has advocated Joshua to”tell himself from their human rights situation” from the Middle East nation before the rematch.
“We’d approaches from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi,” Hearn told a media conference at London, explaining the decision to stage the struggle In Riyadh.
“We had to go someplace that believed in the game of boxing, which had a vision. We already knew Saudi Arabia was for real and knew they were investing in the game of boxing. This was really crucial for us.”
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‘Sportswash’
Saudi Arabia has just hosted sporting events like soccer’s Italian Super Cup, the opening race of the 2018-19 Formula E year and will stage the world’s richest horse race in 2020.
But, there are worries over the current human rights crackdown”with women’s rights activists, lawyers and members of the minority community all being targeted,” based on Amnesty International UK.
“It is very likely to be yet another opportunity for the Saudi government to try to’sportswash’ their severely tarnished picture,” said Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns.
“I knew when we decided not each response could be favorable, and that there could be criticism and controversy,” Hearn told the Guardian, in response to this criticism of staging the fight in Saudi Arabia. “I’m a boxing promoter and at times the criticism along with the curiosity will cause an event of an extraordinary magnitude.”
Hearn also believes the nation’s growing population — over 34 million — can give boxing a platform to achieve new levels of popularity.
“If Saudi Arabia will invest in those fights, together with the population they have, together with the capacity to grow the sport of boxing, you could be seeing a huge shift in the dynamics of the sport, which really excites mepersonally,” Hearn added.
CNN has reached out to Saudi Arabian government officials but has yet to get a reply.
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Ruiz confusion
Joshua, who suffered a shock defeat when the heavyweight pair met in nyc in June, posted a message on interpersonal media confirming the fight but his Mexican competition appears to have additional thoughts.
On Wednesdaya movie on social media appeared to reveal Ruiz Jr. dismissing the fight would be held from Saudi Arabia and a reported television appearance later added to this confusion.
“I have not signed anything yet, we’re negotiating what,” he told ESPN in Mexico, before stating he’d prefer the rematch to take place in New York.
But, Hearn explained that both fighters have signed up the contract and affirmed the fight would go ahead.
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Ruiz, who had been born in California but has Mexican parents, had left forecasts for the rematch to be hauled at Tijuana in which he made his professional debut in 2009.
The Principality Stadium in Wales — the site of two specialist victories for Joshua — had formerly been thought of as the most likely site to the struggle.
“Ruiz had a moan about the UK,” added Hearn. “We stated: there is your impartial venue”

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