Eddie Hearn reveals why Saudi Arabia was chosen for Ruiz Jr – Joshua rematch

Eddie Hearn reveals why Saudi Arabia was chosen for Ruiz Jr-Joshua rematch

Published On Monday, August 12, 2019By Tim Rickson

Eddie Hearn reveals why Diriyah was chosen for Ruiz Jr-Joshua rematch despite human rights concerns

The Andy Ruiz Jr (33-1, 22 KOs) vs Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) 2 rematch will be held in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, despite calls from Amnesty International to avoid that area due to human rights concerns.

In a press conference held by Matchroom Bocing at The Savoy Hotel in London today, on August 12, Anthony Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn explained his reasons for chosing Saudi Arabia to host the historical heavyweight event, "There was a lot of talk of where this fight would be held. We had approaches from Saudi Arabia, from Dubai, from Qatar, from Abu Dhabi. There's been numerous conversations in the past about staging boxing events in that region.

"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, in Saudi Arabia, 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.

"Of course, recently they staged another boxing fight with Amir Khan. We already knew that Saudi Arabia were for real, we already knew they was investing in the sport of boxing and that was very important for us.

"We have to realise that there is a another world out there outside of Cardiff and Madison Square Garden, and we have an obligation to grow the sport of boxing to new areas, to new regions and, for me, this event could change boxing forever, because if Saudi Arabia are going to invest in these kind of fights, with the population they have and the potential to grow the sport of boxing, you could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport, and that's something that really excites me.

"So when we knew Saudi Arabia were serious about the sport of boxing, we then looked into the logistical side and, quite frankly, that blew our minds as well.

"We just finished a meeting talking about the design of the new open air stadium for this fight, already talking about 12,000 but probably, judging by the response, might need 15 or 16,000.

"Look at the events that have been there before us - Formula 1 with the Formula E, of course; the European Golf Tour; the Italian Super Cup; World Boxing Super Series; the WWE - everyone has enjoyed these events from a fan perspective and a logistical experience as well."

“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.

"In terms of the undercard, the experience, 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."

The head of Matchroom Boxing also revealed the first bell will between 9pm to 9:30pm for UK viewers tuning in to the heavyweight world title event.

Omar Khalil, managing partner of Skill Challenge Entertainment, said, “Saudi Arabia has been focused on enhancing the life quality of the people and sports and entertainment have been playing a major role in this.

"Diriyah was founded in 1446, it was the original home of the Al-Saud family, today it's a Unesco Heritage Site, it's a couple of minutes away from Riyadh, and it's a breathtaking venue."

Diriyah is located on the north-western outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh and was the original home of the Saudi royal family.

Khalil continued, "Upon purchasing a ticket online you'll be, by default, issued a VISA that gives you validity of 30-days to the Kingdom after the event, so visitors are welcome to roam the country to do their sight-seeing. It's a five-and-ahalf-hour flight, weather-wise it’s the best time to visit Saudi,  in December it doesn't go above 20c in or below 10c."

Amid human rights concerns from Amnesty International, who urged Anthony Joshua not to fight there, Khalil further added, “We are a demography of 40 million people, 70% are below 24-years-old, so the apetite for such events is huge. This event is only a continuation to the plan that Saudi Arabia is working on to enhance that population's quality of life and overall well-being.”

It was also revealed the first official press conference will be held in Saudi Arabia in early September, followed by London and New York.

Reflecting on the first fight, back on June 1, Hearn commented, "It was a night that really turned the heavyweight industry on its head and now we look forward to, in my opinion, the fight of the year, the biggest fight out there, the heavyweight rematch between Joshua and Ruiz."

Relive the first fight on June 1 in NY here: http://britishboxingnews.co.uk/blogs/andy-ruiz-jr-stuns-anthony-joshua