Anthony Joshua will be heading to the Middle East on December 7 as the deposed heavyweight boxing champion attempts to wrest back three of the four principal world title belts on neutral territory from nemesis Andy Ruiz Jr, The Telegraph can reveal.
It is understood by Telegraph Sport that it will be announced officially today that the Londoner will face the Californian for the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in Riyadh with Saudi Arabian sports entities – with DAZN in the USA and Sky Box Office in the UK airing the championship fight – having put up close to 100 million US dollars for the contest to take place there, according to sources.
There were other options. An offer was tabled by the Dubai authorities while Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was also in the running for the much-anticipated rematch after Ruiz stopped Joshua at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1, in one of the most seismic upsets ever witnessed in the history of heavyweight boxing.
On a dramatic night, having been dropped to the canvas himself by Joshua in the third round, Ruiz then responded by felling the Briton twice that round, before referee Mike Griffin waved the fight off in the seventh round with Joshua having been felled twice more, and in his view, not fit to continue.
Ruiz had taken the fight on five and a half weeks notice, after Joshua’s original opponent Jarrell Miller had tested positive for three banned substances in random tests leading up to the June 1 contest.
In the last eleven months, Saudi Arabia has hosted two major bouts involving high profile British boxers. In September last year the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight tournament final between Callum Smith and George Groves took place in Jeddah, won by Smith, along with Amir Khan’s last contest last month against the Australian Billy Dib.
It is also expected that British heavyweight Tyson Fury’s next contest will be announced imminently for September 14 in Las Vegas against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.