Saudi Arabia is officially announced as the host country for one of the most highly-anticipated rematches in boxing today.
Matchroom Boxing announced that Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua for the unified WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 7. The fight is expected to be broadcast on DAZN in the United States while it will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office in the United Kingdom.
The news of Saudi Arabia being interested in hosting the fight first came from The Athletic, which noted that Saudi officials were making a strong push to get the fight. For weeks, it seemed like Madison Square Garden, the host of the first fight back in June, and select venues in the United Kingdom were under heavy consideration, but the Middle Eastern country came out on top.
Joshua was making his U.S. pro debut when he traveled to New York City to face Ruiz. Originally, Joshua was going to face Jarrell Miller, but Miller was taken out of the fight after failing multiple drug tests in March. Ruiz came in as a last-minute replacement and stopped Joshua in the seventh round to pull off one of the biggest heavyweight upsets in recent memory.
The rematch clause was soon triggered by Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn days later, but for weeks, negotiations stalled due to finding a location for the fight.
Saudi Arabia has been looking to stage major sporting events in recent years. Since 2018, the country has hosted multiple major WWE shows as part of a multi-year agreement with the company and it also hosted the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight semifinals last year. Saudi Arabia also staged a boxing card in Jeddah that was headlined by a welterweight fight between Amir Khan and Billy Dib back in July.