Ruiz-Joshua rematch lands in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) this December

August 9, 2019

The rematch between heavyweights Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua is officially set for December 7, 2019 in Saudi Arabia according to The Athletic.  The announcement that the fight would take place in the Middle East is a shocker of sorts but understandable if you realize money is involved.

The event will take place at an outdoor venue being constructed specifically for the fight in Diriyah, a region of Riyadh according to Mike Coppinger of The Athletic.

Boxing is not the only sports entertainment product that has headed to the middle east due to monetary interests.  The WWE has set up a relationship with Saudi Arabia in which it is holding events there on a quarterly basis.  In return, the publicly-traded company is receiving a huge monetary premium which investor would like.  The UFC is holding an event this September in Abu Dhabi where Khabib Nurmogomedov returns to the Octagon after almost a year away to face Dustin Poirier.  Ruiz upset Joshua in New York in June to win the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles.  The fight was to be a coming out party for Joshua and to bolster the DAZN brand in the United States.  Instead, Ruiz became the underdog story that people rallied around.

The return fight in KSA presents itself with a PR headscratcher.  For DAZN, airing the fight will be a plus for subscriptions and press.  But, if its intent was to make headway into the North American market with Joshua, the fight in Saudi Arabia doesn’t help.  There is a political issue as well.  KSA has been under scrutiny for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  Several WWE performers refused to go to the Saudi Arabia due to the issues.

Yet, with Saudi Arabia interested in spending money to lure event instead of the U.K. or the U.S., we see that money will win out all the time.

The event is being called, the “Clash of the Dunes.”

Payout Perspective:

The obvious concern is for the promoters to block out all negative press concerning the political issues arising with this event happening in Saudi Arabia.  It would have made more sense to have the rematch in the United States or on Joshua’s home turf in the U.K. where he’s sold out huge stadiums.  One would expect that the crowd will be subdued for this fight even with the magnitude hinging on this rematch.  If Ruiz defeats Joshua, the AJ hype train will be heading the wrong way and DAZN’s investment will appear to be a bust (for at least the short term).  But, if Joshua regains his titles, boxing can have a trilogy matchup or await a Deontay Wilder fight down the road.

Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.