‘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 establish boxing heavyweight division in the international public’s consciousness.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is expecting the rematch between Anthony Joshua along with Andy Ruiz Jr.. In Saudi Arabia — the»Clash of the Dunes» — could do the same and»change boxing »
The fight is scheduled to be held at Diriyah, on the outskirts of Riyadh, on December 7.
Saudi Arabia has sponsored a range of fights lately, such as Amir Khan’s triumph over Billy Dib, however Amnesty International UK has urged Joshua to»tell himself from their human rights situation» from the Middle East nation before this rematch.
«We had approaches from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi,» Hearn told a media conference at London, explaining the decision to phase the fight In Riyadh.
«We needed to go somewhere that thought in the sport of boxing, that had a vision. We already knew Saudi Arabia was for actual and understood they had been investing in the sport of boxing. This was really critical for all of 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 season and will stage the world’s richest horse race in 2020.
But, there are anxieties over the current human rights crackdown»with women’s rights activists, lawyers and members of the Shia minority community all being targeted,» according to Amnesty International UK.
«It’s very likely to be yet another opportunity for the Saudi government to try to’sportswash’ their badly tarnished image,» said Felix Jakens,» Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns.
«I knew that when we made the decision not each response would be positive, and that there would be controversy and criticism,» Hearn told the Guardian, in reaction to the criticism of staging the fight in Saudi Arabia. «I am a boxing promoter and on occasion the criticism and the curiosity will cause an event of an extraordinary size»
Hearn also considers the country’s increasing population — over 34 million — can give boxing a platform to attain new heights of popularity.
«If Saudi Arabia is going to invest in those fights, with the people they have, together with the capacity to increase the game of boxing, you might be seeing a big change at the dynamics of the game, which really excites mepersonally,» Hearn added.
CNN has achieved to Saudi Arabian government officials but has yet to be given a reply.
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Ruiz confusion
Joshua, who suffered a shock defeat when the heavyweight pair first met in new york in June, posted a message on social websites confirming the fight but his Mexican competition seems to have other ideas.
On Wednesday, a movie on interpersonal media seemed to show Ruiz Jr. dismissing the struggle would be held from Saudi Arabia along with a reported tv appearance later added to the confusion.
«I haven’t signed anything yet, we’re negotiating all,» he told ESPN in Mexico, prior to stating he’d favor the rematch to happen in New York.
However, Hearn explained both fighters have signed the contract and also affirmed the fight would proceed.
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Ruiz, who was born in California but has Mexican parentswho’d left forecasts to get the rematch to be held in 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 considered as the most likely site to the struggle.
«Ruiz had a moan about the UK,» additional Hearn. «We said: there is your impartial venue»

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