Published On: Mon, Aug 12th, 2019

What we know about Anthony Joshua's Andy Ruiz Jr rematch as Eddie Hearn reveals details

Anthony Joshua took a brutal beating at the hands of Ruiz Jr back in June when they faced off the first time.

And after two months of speculation about a date and venue for the rematch, which was activated mere days after Joshua’s defeat, Hearn announced on social media that their highly-anticipated sequel will take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on December 7.

The decision has been met with some criticism, with most pondering the morality of staging a fight in a country which has questionable human rights laws.

It’s thought that the Middle East country are putting up close to £70million for the bout to take place in Diriyah, a town situated on the outskirts of the country’s capital Riyadh.

“We had approaches from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar,” Hearn said.

“We wanted to go somewhere that had a vision for the sport of boxing. We already knew Saudi Arabia was for real and investing in the sport.

“We have to realise that there is another world out there outside of Cardiff and Madison Square Garden. We have an obligation to grow the sport to new areas and regions.

“This event could change boxing forever. If Saudi is going to invest in these fights you could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport, which truly excites me.”

The likes of Hughie Fury, Amir Khan, George Groves and Callum Smith have all fought in Saudi Arabia in the last 12 months, while the country has also held WWE, Formula E, Golf and Horse Racing events in recent years.

Hearn confirmed that an open-air stadium that can hold 12,000 people will be erected especially for the fight, before revealing fight week will be an “incredible experience” for fans, who will automatically obtain a 30-day visa through ticket purchase.

“There is a new open-air stadium for this fight with room for 12,000 people. So for those making the trip it will be an incredible experience,” Hearn said.

“There will be events and music festivals around the event itself. This is such a huge occasion for boxing, an iconic moment for boxing. And with the response we have seen – mainly good, some negative – I guarantee you, with curiosity, the whole world will be watching this fight on December 7. I know Saudi Arabia will doing everything they can to make this an event that takes your breath away.”

At the news conference held in London, Hearn also addressed the main event start time for UK fans who are not planning on making the seven-hour trip – noting that a favourable 9-9.30pm bell-ring would be the aim.

The fight will be shown in the UK on Sky Sports Box Office, with the price set at £19.95. In the U.S. it’s expected that Hearn’s broadcast partner DAZN will obtain the rights to the fight, though a deal has yet to be made.

Prior to taking on Ruiz Jr in June, AJ was originally scheduled to face Jarrell Miller before the American was pulled for the bout after testing positive for banned substances in three separate drug tests.

Ruiz Jr, who fought and beat Alexander Dimitrenko the same week Miller was exiled from the fight, was given the opportunity by promoter Eddie Hearn after the Mexican direct messaged the Matchroom chief on Instagram.

‘The Destroyer’ entered the fight as a big underdog and had barely been given a chance against Joshua, who had knocked out 21 of his previous 22 opponents. But after two cagey rounds of action during their bout, fireworks began in the third.

Joshua managed to drop Ruiz Jr, who had never been down in his career before, with an uppercut and left hook. But the Californian-born fighter came back and sent AJ to the canvas twice before the round’s end.

Four rounds later, the fight was stopped after Joshua was knocked down two more times, forcing referee Mike Griffin to wave the fight off.

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