World Heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr has confirmed his rematch with Britain’s Anthony Joshua will take place in Saudi Arabia this December.
Both fighters signed a contact for the fight to be held in Diriyah on December 7, despite Ruiz Jr initially claiming he was going to ‘bring it back to the United States’.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said: “The contract for the rematch was signed prior to the first fight. They are both signed at the same time – there is no other contract and they are contractually bound for the rematch.
“There are no conversations between the two teams about not doing the fight – I don’t perceive a problem.
“He signed a contract with us that he was absolutely over the moon with, that gave him the opportunity of a lifetime – he will 100 per cent honour that contract.”
The lucrative deal will see Saudi Arabia host its second major fight in the space of just a few months, following Amir Khan’s fourth round victory over Billy Dib at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah in July.
The country also hosted the World Boxing Super Series last year, enhancing its ever-growing boxing profile that Hearn hopes will help put it on the global sporting map.
“If Saudi are willing to invest in the sport of boxing for the right reasons, I’m in,” he added. “It’s unexpected but a massive moment for the sport of boxing.
“It is an iconic moment that could change the sport of boxing forever – this event will go down in history with the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manila’.
“Every promoter in boxing has been in talks with Saudi Arabia – Mayweather-Pacquaio considered it, this is the first time it will actually happen.
“I couldn’t believe how good the World Boxing Super Series final was there. Financially, it is viable – Formula One, the European Golf tour, the Italia Cup, the biggest horse racing race, it all happens here.
“The whole world will be watching – for Joshua, once you take away the curiosity, you get down to the fight and AJ trying to regain his world heavyweight titles, it will be madness.
“This will go down in history. This is all AJ is working towards, making sure he is victorious.”
The rematch comes after Ruiz’s stunning seventh round victory over Joshua – who was previously undefeated – at New York’s Madison Square Garden in June, a result that sent shockwaves across the sport and removed Joshua’s aura of invincibility.
The IBF, WBA and WBO belts will all be on the line in Diriyah, with the fight taking place in a purpose-built 15,000 seater stadium just outside the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh.