Eddie Hearn has insisted that Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title rematch is on for Saudi Arabia on December 7, despite controversy about the location and demands for more of the oil millions from Andy Ruiz Jr.
Ruiz Jr was reportedly demanding a larger purse for the rerun of his shock victory at Maddison Square Garden in June.
But promoter Hearn insisted: ‘Despite fake news both fighters have signed the contract and the governing bodies have approved the event.
‘A new stadium is being built in Diriyha outside Riyadh for between 12 and 16,000 spectators. It will be a spectacular event. ‘
A media conference went ahead at the Saudi owned Savoy hotel in London without either fighter present and against a background of alleged disputes about the size of Ruiz’s purse.
There was also concern about the suitability of the venue in the light of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the assassination of a journalist critical of the government. Hearn said: ‘Yes we were looking at going back to New York where AJ lost the the title, Cardiff, Qatar, Dubai and other venues but the organisation and money in Saudi Arabia will change boxing forever.
‘We can also grow boxing in other parts of the world. It is not right to think of the sport solely in terms of the UK and US. Hearn revealed the fight will air at around 9pm UK time. He added: ‘When we realised Saudi Arabia was serious about boxing we looked into the logistical side and that blew our mind as well.
‘Look at the events held there before us – Formula E, the European golf tour, the Italian Super Cup, WWE. It will be an iconic moment for boxing. ‘With curiosity the whole word will be watching this fight.’
‘For us when we realise Saudi Arabia were serious about the sport we then looked into the logistical side and quite frankly that blew our mins as well.
‘The design of the new open air stadium for this fight, already we are talking about 12,000 but probably judging by the response we might need 15,000 or 16,000 as well in this stadium.’