Andy Ruiz Jr. Reportedly Agrees to Rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

Heavyweight boxers Anthony Joshua, left, and Andy Ruiz Jr. face off during a weigh-in at Madison Square Garden, Friday, May 31, 2019, before their title bout Saturday in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua have reportedly agreed to a Dec. 7 rematch in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.

Per that report, the fight will take place in a "soon-to-be-constructed outdoor stadium," with the Saudi Arabian government "backing a site fee worth tens of millions of dollars." 

The site itself is a controversial one, given Saudi Arabia's history with human rights violations and the Saudi Arabian government's involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Ruiz's pursuit of a bigger payday was another holdup in negotiations, per Rafael:

"Ruiz's team sought not only a better financial deal than what was spelled out in the contract for the first fight—about $9 million for the rematch, sources have told ESPN—but also guarantees for other aspects of the fight that were not part of that original deal.

"According the source, [Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing] has made Ruiz 'happier' in terms of the money, including giving him the Mexican television rights for the bout."

Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reported that Ruiz will receive about $10 million for the rematch.

Ruiz, 29, stunned the previously undefeated Joshua in June after agreeing to the fight just weeks earlier, replacing Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller. Ruiz (33-1) knocked out the 29-year-old Joshua (22-1) in the seventh round, one of the most shocking upsets in the history of the heavyweight division.

Ruiz walked away from the fight with three heavyweight titles, though Joshua had the rights to an immediate rematch in the contract. Ruiz was able to modify the terms based on where the fight is being held, with the initial expectation it would take place at Madison Square Garden or the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, according to Rafael.

"The first fight was in New York and the second fight was supposed to be in New York, or in England or Wales. But now all of a sudden it's in Saudi Arabia, which I'm not 100 percent sold on," Ruiz's trainer, Manny Robles, told Rafael earlier in the week. "But it is what it is. Like I said, my job is to get my guy ready and soon as I have him back in the gym I'll be able to make an assessment as to where he is physically, mentally, and then take it from there."

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