Saudi Arabia is now in play for the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. rematch, as well as UAE and Qatar. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing is literally bending over backwards in an effort to accommodate Ruiz Jr. (33-1, 22 KOs) to make him happy in fighting a neutral venue for the rematch.
Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) wants to win back his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles that he lost to Ruiz Jr. by a seventh round knockout two months ago in an ill-fated trip to New York. The British heavyweight Joshua wanted to win over America in what his fans referred to as a ‘Takeover,’ but it turned out badly for him.
“Aside from Dubai in UAE, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is a possibility, as is Qatar,” said @MikeCoppinger. “United Arab Emirates remains under consideration to host the Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua heavyweight championship rematch. Organizers there made a lucrative offer to host the fight.”
Cardiff, Wales is still the front-runner for Joshua-Ruiz location
Despite the mention of neutral venues in the Middle East, the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. rematch is still expected to take place in Cardiff, Wales. That’s where both Joshua and his long time promoter Hearn want the fight to take place. There’s a good possibility that the only reason the Middle East is being mentioned as a possible option for the Joshua-Ruiz rematch is to give AJ’s promoters cover in order to give the impression that other locations are being considered besides the UK.
In all likelihood, the second fight between Joshua and Ruiz will wind up in the UK exactly where Hearn has been talking about putting it in Cardiff. Joshua has good luck in fighting in Cardiff. It would take a lot for Ruiz to beat Joshua in that location, especially if he’s having to battle two people inside the ring on the night.
Some feel that Joshua needs the fight to take place in the UK to help bolster his shaky self confidence. It shouldn’t matter where the rematch takes place, but with the extra help fighters can sometimes get with the officiating, it can make the difference between winning and losing. Joshua might have lost to Joseph Parker if there wasn’t a referee pulling the New Zealander off of him the entire fight.
On Tuesday, Joshua volunteered to fight Ruiz in Mexico, and say he would “whoop” him even if his uncle were the referee. Ruiz responded with this Tweet:
“AJ says he can ‘whoop’ me in Tijuana prove it let’s run it in Mexico.