Promoter defends Saudi fight venue

Sports | REUTERS 14 Aug 2019

Anthony Joshua's promoter defended the decision to stage the Briton's heavyweight title rematch with world champion Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia and said it could change boxing forever.

Eddie Hearn said that Joshua and Mexican-American Ruiz had signed up for the December 7 fight to be hosted in an open-air stadium in Ad Diriyha, near the Saudi capital Riyadh. The choice of venue has been criticized because of Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

"This event could change boxing forever," said Hearn. "If Saudi Arabia are going to invest in these kind of fights, with the population that they have and the potential to grow the sport, you could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport."

The BBC reported Saudi backers were paying a US$40 million (HK$312 million) site fee.

Previously unbeaten Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Ruiz at New York's Madison Square Garden on June 1.

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