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Thu 28 Nov 2019 04:33 PM

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Saudi Arabia is making boxing history with Clash on the Dunes

The first world heavyweight title fight is happening in Saudi Arabia on December 7

Saudi Arabia is making boxing history with Clash on the Dunes

For boxing fans, there’s the immense appeal of seeing Anthony Joshua rematch against reigning world heavyweight titleholder Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua lost his WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO belts to Ruiz in June this year, when the duo faced off in New York. 

Clash on the Dunes is happening in Saudi Arabia next week. This will see world-famous boxers Joshua and Ruiz go head-to-head in a rematch of epic proportions.

It is the first world heavyweight title fight hosted in Saudi Arabia, all part of the Kingdom’s Diriyah Season.

“The world will be watching on December 7,” said HRH Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of Skill Challenge Entertainment. “This event is a huge milestone for Saudi Arabia and sport in the Kingdom. We are empowering the people of our nation through sport, and are honored to be supporting Vision 2030.”

The match is historic for several reasons. For boxing fans, there’s the immense appeal of seeing Anthony Joshua rematch against reigning world heavyweight titleholder Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua lost his WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO belts to Ruiz in June this year, when the duo faced off in New York. This is the first time they will be back in the ring together.

“You know I made history in New York and I’ll make history again in Saudi Arabia,” said current reigning champion Andy Ruiz Jr. when asked about the match. Ruiz and Joshua’s match will be joined by a world-class undercard of fighters. These include names like Alexander Povetkin, Filip Hrgovic, and Eric Molina.

Yet it’s also historic in an entirely different way. Saudi Arabia is focusing increasingly on sport, all linked to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Diriyah Season alone includes momentous events like the Diriyah E-Prix, which is focused on electric cars, the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, Diriyah Music Festival, and more.

“It’ll definitely be a night people will tell their grandchildren they were at, one of those historic evenings of boxing,” said UK-born Anthony Joshua. “Everyone from Saudi has been brilliant to work with.”

“I’m part of history now,” added Ruiz. “I’m gonna make history here. Having a big fight in a big venue in Saudi Arabia, it’s amazing.”

Even as it hosts these incredible functions, Saudi Arabia has made visiting its sites easier than ever before. The recently launched eVisa system allows travelers from over 49 countries the opportunity to obtain a visa online or on arrival in a fast, effortless process. Other would-be visitors are encouraged to visit their nearest embassies.

“We want the world to see our fascinating desert waiting for the adventurous stories to be told,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, told Arab News earlier this month.

“We want the world to see, first-hand, the warm and generous hospitality the people of Saudi Arabia have to offer. We are eager to welcome the world to our country, and to witness our vision, capability and professionalism in hosting the biggest sporting events at the highest level,” he continued..

For the Ruiz-Joshua match, thousands of fans from more than 60 countries are expected to fill a purpose-built 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena. The Arena is in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We are delighted to welcome boxing fans and the international community for this momentous occasion,” added Prince Khaled. “This is the first title fight in Saudi Arabia. As the rights holders, Skill Challenge Entertainment are honored to be part of this significant occasion.”

The benefits of hosting these type of events, Prince Abdulaziz noted previously, includes job creation and catalyzing the economy.

“Hopefully soon, we can also see Saudi citizens competing and becoming champions in each and every one of these sports,” he added.

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