Hearn defends staging Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia

He wants to make feel that he's won it fair and square and do it on a neutral territory.    Eddie Hearn

He wants to make feel that he's won it fair and square and do it on a neutral territory. Eddie Hearn

Anthony Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, admitted yesterday that the heavyweight boxer and his team had "expected criticism and controversy" over the choice of Saudi Arabia as the venue for the Briton's rematch against Andy Ruiz Jnr.

Hearn insists it is unfair to criticise boxing for heading to Saudi Arabia, where Britain's Amir Khan also recently fought, because there are so many other sports organisations using the country now.

Speaking at the Savoy Hotel in London to officially announce the Kingdom as the location for the eagerly anticipated rematch, Hearn called the fight the "biggest of the year" with the potential to match the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in 1974, and the "Thrilla in Manila" between Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975. "Would it be back at Madison Square Garden?" He also said that internet reports that Ruiz had not agreed to fight in Saudi Arabia were incorrect. And there's been numerous conversations in the past about staging events in that region [of the Middle East]. I was lucky enough to attend the World Boxing Super Series, where the [super middleweight final] was held in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia [in September 2018]. "For me this event could change boxing forever because if Saudia Arabia are going to invest in these type of fights, with the population they have, you could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport, and that is something that really truly excites me".

"This is Anthony Joshua trying to regain his world title".

Previously unbeaten Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Ruiz at New York's Madison Square Garden on June 1, with a rematch in the contract.

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It has been reported in the British media that the fight's Saudi backers were paying a 40 million dollars site fee. "The WWE. Everyone has enjoyed the experience from a fan experience and from a logistical experience and that is very important to us". "And we have an obligation to grow the sport of boxing to new areas and new regions".

"Quite frankly the logistical side blew our mind", he said. "They have 100% signed for the fight", he added.

Hearn cited a list of global sporting events hosted by Saudi Arabia in recent years.

Hearn and Khalil said the fight will take place in a 12,000- to 16,000-seat open-air stadium that will be constructed just to host the bout in a city on the outskirts of the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh. Joshua is expected to earn well over £50million, his biggest payday to date, in spite of being the challenger, with his purses from Saudi Arabia, Sky Box Office in the United Kingdom and DAZN, the fighter's digital broadcast partners in the US. Formula One, with the Formula A. The European golf tour.

Hearn dismissed concerns that women would not be able to travel to Saudi Arabia - and said that everyone who bought a ticket would get a 30-day visa for the country.

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