Report: Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua Rematch Set for Saudi Arabia on December 7

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2019

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 30: Anthony Joshua of the United Kingdom faces off with Andy Ruiz of Mexico during the press conference prior to their world heavyweight title fight at the Beacon Theatre on May 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Anthony Joshua has reportedly agreed to a rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Gareth A. Davies of the Daily Telegraph reported the bout will go ahead "with Saudi Arabian sports entities having put up close to $100 million for the contest to take place there."

According to the report, "Dubai authorities" enquired about hosting the rematch, while the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, was another option.

Per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, interest has come from various corners of the world:

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn has been fielding lucrative offers for the rematch across the world in recent weeks. @MikeCoppinger reported earlier this week that Saudi Arabia was in the running.

Joshua was stunned by Ruiz when the two met previously, as he suffered the first defeat of his career on June 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York, losing the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles.

After Joshua floored his opponent in the third round and appeared on course for victory, Ruiz was able to recover and stage an incredible fightback. He put the champion down four times in the fight, and the bout was eventually waved off in the seventh round.

Sky Sports Boxing shared footage of the final moments of the showdown:

Sky Sports Boxing @SkySportsBoxing

AVAILABLE ON DEMAND NOW! 🔥🔥 📺 Watch all the Joshua v Ruiz Jr Fight Night highlights On Demand now! https://t.co/lnYnbmwNzr

Per JD, Joshua reflected on what went wrong in his United States debut:

JD @JDOfficial

ICYMI: The video that we've been waiting for. @anthonyfjoshua talks #RuizJoshua2 and what went wrong in NYC 🗽for the latest Road to Undisputed interview. https://t.co/gDF8JRWohA

The result represented one of the biggest shocks in the history of the division, and the prospect of a second contest between the pair is intriguing. 

Joshua will no doubt be seeking to show this defeat was a one-off, as prior to the defeat he had developed a reputation as one of the most dominant boxers on the planet.

The Englishman had won all 22 of his fights before the loss in New York, with 21 of those victories coming inside the distance. New Zealander Joseph Parker was the only man to have taken Joshua the full 12 rounds.

Ruiz didn't need that long to beat Joshua, as he showcased superior boxing skill and spades of resolve to earn the biggest win of his career.

After the contest, former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was full of praise for the Mexican:

Lennox Lewis @LennoxLewis

I hear a lot of criticism about AJ losing to a fat guy. What many don’t realize is that @Andy_destroyer1 has an EXTENSIVE and incredible amateur pedigree. He still has hands & experience. He’s seen it all and it serves him well in the pros despite his weight.

Ahead of the second meeting between the two, it's unlikely Ruiz will be written off quite so readily. Having already grabbed a huge win in the first fight, the contest represents something of a free swing for Ruiz.

By contrast, it will be a huge night for Joshua. Should he rediscover the firepower that's been a trademark of his career so far, then perhaps he can attribute the first defeat to an off night. Lose, and his status among elite heavyweights—like Ruiz, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury—will surely be in question.