Anthony Joshua will be heading to the Middle East on December 7 as the deposed heavyweight boxing champion attempts to wrest back three of the four principal world title belts from Andy Ruiz Jr on neutral territory, The Telegraph can reveal.
It is understood an official announcement will be made today confirming that Joshua will face Ruiz for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in Riyadh, with Saudi Arabian sports entities having put up close to 100 million US dollars for the contest to take place there, according to sources. DAZN, in the USA, and Sky Box Office, in the UK, will be airing the championship fight.
There were other options. An offer was tabled by the Dubai authorities while Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was also in the running for the much-anticipated rematch after Ruiz stopped Joshua at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1 in one of the most seismic upsets ever witnessed in the history of heavyweight boxing.
On a dramatic night, having been dropped to the canvas himself by Joshua in the third round, Ruiz then responded by felling the Briton twice before referee Mike Griffin waved the fight off in the seventh round, Joshua having been felled twice more, and, in his view, not fit to continue.
Ruiz had taken the fight on five-and-a-half weeks notice, after Joshua’s original opponent, Jarrell Miller, had tested positive for three banned substances in random tests leading up to the contest.
In the last 11 months, Saudi Arabia has hosted two major bouts involving high-profile British boxers. In September last year the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight tournament final between Callum Smith and George Grove took place in Jeddah, won by Smith, along with Amir Khan’s last contest against the Australian Billy Dib in July.