Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight championship rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia is officially on.
There had been rumblings from the Ruiz camp that the fight, which was previously announced by promoter Eddie Hearn as taking place in the kingdom on December 7, could be shifted.
But 29-year-old USA-born Mexican Ruiz, who stunned Joshua, and the boxing world, in June to claim the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world titles, has confirmed he is committed to the fight.
And he has boldly predicted Saudi Arabia will be the venue where he will end Joshua’s career.
In a series of social media postings he said: “I took it to AJ in the Big Apple and I’m looking forward to ending his career in the desert.”
He added: “I’m excited to announce my rematch with Anthony Joshua.
“In the first fight I made history and became the first ever Mexican/American heavyweight champion of the world.
“I am grateful to Saudi Arabia for inviting me.”
The high-profile duel, dubbed 'Clash on the Dunes', will take place in Diriyah, which incorporates the UNESCO World Heritage site of At-Turaif, on the outskirts of Riyadh - a dramatic contrast to the iconic Madison Square Garden which hosted the first fight between the two men which ended in a seventh-round stoppage.
The Saudis have faced intense diplomatic fallout over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi which took place in the conservative kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
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.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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