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Tue 13 Aug 2019 09:10 AM

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Why Saudi Arabia was picked to host Joshua v Ruiz rematch

Promotor Eddie Hearn hails Gulf kingdom, says was also approached by Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Why Saudi Arabia was picked to host Joshua v Ruiz rematch

The promotor of the Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jnr rematch has revealed why Saudi Arabia has been chosen to host the heavyweight championship clash.

At a press conference held at The Savoy Hotel in London, Eddie Hearn said there had also been approaches from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

"For us, we really wanted to go somewhere who believed in the sport of boxing, that had a vision. I was lucky enough to attend the World Boxing Super Series where the final was in Jeddah, it was a fantastic event, not just for the logistical setup but for the vibrancy of the crowd, the interest in the sport of boxing," he said in comments published by British Boxing News.

"We already knew that Saudi Arabia was for real and that was very important for us. We have to realise that there is a whole other world out there outside of Cardiff and New York," he added.

"There is time for change there, and they are trying to make that change through sport. People think you can't get into Saudi Arabia, or that women aren't welcome to the show. Men and women are welcome. If you buy a ticket you get an automatic visa, and it's six hours away.

"This will go down as one of the great fights, alongside the Rumble in the Jungle, the Thrilla in Manila.

Last week, it was announced that the high-profile duel, dubbed 'Clash on the Dunes', will take place in Riyadh on December 7 and will see Joshua trying to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles he sensationally lost to Ruiz in New York in June.

Hearn, the head of Matchroom Boxing, said the fight details will be officially revealed at a news conference in London on Monday.  added: “This will be an iconic moment for boxing, Saudi Arabia will be doing all they can to make sure this is an event that will blow you away.

"The undercard, you can expect to be the very best, there’s been huge interest from our fighters and we cannot wait to get started and this is just on a whole other level. This is going to be an event that you will never, ever forget."

He also revealed the stadium in Riyadh could hold up to 15,000.

Saudi rulers have utilised sport as a tool to try and soften their international image and to provide a showcase, they claim, for reforms inside the oil-rich state.

In February, they hosted a first European Tour golf event which was won by former world number one Dustin Johnson while the world's most gruelling motor sports race, the Dakar Rally, will be raced in the country in 2020.

In July this year, British boxer Amir Khan won the WBC international welterweight title with a fourth round stoppage of Australian Billy Dib in Jeddah.

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