Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/15/2019): Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 In Saudi Arabia?, WBSS Issues, More

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/15/19) Table Of Contents:

  • Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua 2 Lands In Saudi Arabia
  • Regis Prograis-WBSS Lawsuit
  • Top Rank On ESPN+ 8/10 Results
Movsar Evloev vs. Ilia Topuria Targeted For UFC 270

News And Notes From The World Of Boxing

Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua 2 Lands In Saudi Arabia

As if 2019 couldn’t get any more strange, one of the biggest rematches in recent memory is heading to Saudi Arabia of all places.

Andy Ruiz Jr. will apparently defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Anthony Joshua on December y Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Though this is what Matchroom Boxing announced, and even held an introductory press conference (that suspiciously did not feature either fighter), it seemed that things are not fully set in stone as originally thought.

First, and most importantly, is that the Ruiz camp has stated that they have not signed off on Saudi Arabia being the host country for the fight. Yet, the main reason for why that appears to be the case is more financial.

Based on what info is available, it appears that Ruiz will be getting $9 million for the rematch, per the contract they signed for the first fight earlier this year. While $9 million may seem like a lot of money and more than likely more than what Ruiz has made in one fight than any other fight throughout his career.

“I know everyone is talking about the fight and all that. We got real news coming soon, but the fight is gonna happen soon. AJ got the rematch, yes we do get the rematch. But it’s gonna be on my term, on our terms. We’re gonna bring it back to the United States,” Ruiz said.

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.

Since the announcement was made, there had been some backlash regarding the fight being stage in a country that has had so many human rights issues and has a history of misogyny and homophobia. While Hearn would claim he wanted the fight to be in a country that would treat the fight as the mega event that it is, the real reason is more due to the amount of money that all parties (minus the contracted purses for the fighters).

In all reality, money was why this fight is taking place in Saudi Arabia and not for any grand showoff reason. The amount of money that all parties stand to make is reportedly as much as $100 million which is more than what any other venue (or country) could offer for this fight unless we’re talking about Las Vegas on pay-per-view that would do more 1.5 million buys just to be in that nine figure ball park (and as much attention the first fight got for the shock result, there’s no way the rematch does 1.5 million buys).

The other subplot regarding the rematch is the status of the IBF title that Ruiz owns. When Ruiz won the IBF belt from Joshua back in June, he also inherited Joshua’s mandatory challenger in Kubrat Pulev. The Bulgarian heavyweight has been the IBF mandatory since last October when he defeated Hughie Fury.

Recently, the IBF granted an exception for Ruiz to face Joshua without worrying about losing his title this year. The one caveat to that exception is that the Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 winner must face Pulev next by May 31, 2020 and given the IBF’s past history with enforcing mandatories, the governing body will follow through with that deadline and isn’t afraid to strip the IBF champion of his belt if he doesn’t comply.

Regis Prograis-WBSS Lawsuit

The World Boxing Super Series has encountered problems once more, potentially putting the junior welterweight finals in serious jeopardy.

WBA champion and tournament finalist Regis Prograis had been waiting for a date for his title unification and WBSS finals against IBF titleholder Josh Taylor for months but had heard nothing from the tournament. Now, Prograis and promoter Lou DiBella are looking to get out of the tournament, saying that the WBSS breached its contract.

DiBella Entertainment posted the following statement on August 9 on the matter:

“Today in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Regis Prograis and DiBella Entertainment, Inc. filed for a declaratory judgment that Comosa AG, the owner of the World Boxing Super Series, has breached its contractual obligations to Prograis and DBE. Prograis and DBE further informed Comosa that Prograis is withdrawing from the WBSS, effective immediately.

Today's action is the result of a long and repeated pattern of behavior by Comosa that includes late payments, scheduling delays, bad faith representations, missed deadlines, and broken promises. A recitation of this behavior can be found in the Complaint filed today.

There is no one more disappointed by this turn of events than Regis Prograis, who has expressed his desire to unify the super lightweight division on a number of occasions. Comosa was provided every opportunity to see the WBSS to conclusion but it failed at every turn to meet its obligations to the contracted fighters. This action was commenced only after Prograis and DBE determined, as a result of Comosa's conduct, that his participation in this venture was no longer possible.

DBE and Prograis will not be making any further comment beyond the content of this statement and the Complaint.”

Another issue that was raised by DiBella Entertainment is Prograis not getting paid for his upcoming fight against Taylor, with several deadlines being missed and multiple changes being made to the breakdown of a potential $2 million purse for Prograis, according to a report from Jake Donovan of Boxing Scene.

Missing from the multiple revisions in various proposals thrown around by Comosa is the venue of the fight, which had been rumored to take place in the United Kingdom. One proposal had the fight take place on September 28, which is less time than what fighters typically have to prepare for a major unification bout such as this one.

The WBSS responded to Prograis’ actions and released their own statement on the matter.

“WBSS emphasizes that all tournament fighters have fair contracts regarding their exclusive participation in the tournament. This is no different for Regis Prograis, and WBSS greatly values Regis’s participation in the tournament.

The litigation initiated by Regis Prograis and DiBella Entertainment Inc in the New JErsey District Court is completely unfounded and without any basis in fact or in law. WBSS strenuously denies that it has violated any contractual obligation towards Regis Prograis or DiBella Entertainment Inc. The WBSS has enforced its tournament contracts in the past and will do so again with all resources available if needed.

We look forward to the upcoming final of the Super Lightweights for the Ali Trophy between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor, which promises to be a spectacular boxing night.

WBSS will defend the tournament against any attempts of third parties to interfere with the tournament with all means and in all jurisdictions available as necessary.”

Prograis’ frustrations with the tournament aren’t new and there were rumblings that he could leave the tournament before a semifinal fight against Kiryl Relikh. Prograis told Fightful in April that he was very frustrated over not knowing when and where his fight against Relikh took place, but wanted to remain in the tournament as the fight against Relikh was his first full world title shot.

"At first, it was kind of frustrating. At first, it was just one thing where it was a quick turnaround for the tournament. It just wasn’t happening so I kept bugging my manager asking, ‘What’s going on? What’s going to happen with the fight? I’m ready to start training camp.’ I just had a whole lot of stuff planned out and I just wanted to start my training camp. It was frustrating at first, but I’ve kept busy. I stayed in the gym and I’m glad of the way it turned out. But yeah, it was kind of frustrating at first just because we didn’t know what was going on. A lot of people even doubted that [the tournament] was even going to happen. For me, I just stayed silent on what I wanted to do," Prograis told Fightful.

This isn’t the first time that the WBSS encountered similar issues this season. Before the semifinal round took place earlier this year, then-IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk also threatened to leave the tournament before both sides were able to work out a resolution that kept Baranchyk in the tournament. Baranchyk went on to lose his title to Josh Taylor in Scotland back in April.

Top Rank On ESPN+ 8/10 Results

Top Rank’s latest card in Philadelphia on August 10 was eventful in more ways than one, with none of them being beneficial for the promotional company.

Originally, the main event of the card was supposed to be a featherweight fight between former champion Carl Frampton and Emmanuel Dominguez, but in a freak accident, Frampton was injured days before the event took place at the Liacouras Center.

Frampton was hanging out in the lobby of the fight hotel when a concrete pillar fell through a curtain and smashed into a table that Frampton had his hands on, breaking two bones in his left hand.

This forced a reshuffling of the card with the three-fight tripleheader on the main card on ESPN+ featuring unbeaten middleweight prospect Edgar Berlanga taking on Gregory Trenel added to the show and Jason Sosa’s bout against Haskell Lydell Rhodes in the new main event.

But the real story is the co-main event, featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez’s pro debut. Ramirez, who signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, was the talk of the card heading to August 10 as many tabbed him to be the next great Cuban boxer to win a world title perhaps relatively early into his professional career.

Yet, Ramirez’s pro career started off horrendously, getting knocked down by Adan Gonzales in the first round and eventually losing a split decision to drop his first fight in the paid ranks. In a year that has featured plenty of major upsets, this one might be near the top.

It wasn’t like Gonzales came into the fight as someone above the level of competition Ramirez has faced in the amateurs. After all, not only has Ramirez fought, and beaten, many future pros (notably Shakur Stevenson), but Gonzales only had a 4-2-2 record heading into the fight.

  • Jason Sosa defeated Haskell Lydell Rhodes by TKO, round 7, 1:08
  • Adan Gonzales defeated Robeisy Ramirez by split decision (39-36, 37-38, 40-35)
  • Edgar Berlanga defeated Gregory Trenel by TKO, round 1, 2:24
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