The much anticipated rematch between defeated former world heavy weight Anthony Joshua’s and current champion Andy Ruiz Jr will take place in Saudi Arabia on 7 December.
This time Joshua will be bidding to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles Ruiz ripped
The rematch will be the latest high-profile boxing event to be held in Saudi Arabia after Amir Khan’s victory over the Australian Billy Dib in July. The kingdom also hosted the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final between the British pair Callum Smith and George Groves last year.
Joshua’s bout with Ruiz Jr will take place in Diriyah, a town on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh. However, before settling for the oil rich country, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was among the venues proposed for the rematch but Ruiz Jr had insisted the bout must take place either back in the US or on neutral territory.
In a swift rection, Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns, has criticised the decision to host the fight on Saudi Arabia:
In his words, “If Anthony Joshua fights Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia, it’s likely to be yet another opportunity for the Saudi authorities to try to ‘sportswash’ their severely tarnished image,” he said.
“Despite some long-overdue reforms on women’s rights, Saudi Arabia is currently in the grip of a sweeping human rights crackdown – with women’s rights activists, lawyers and members of the Shia minority community all being targeted.
“There’s been no justice over the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen is carrying out indiscriminate attacks on homes, hospitals and market-places with horrific consequences for Yemeni civilians.
“As with other sporting stars going to Saudi Arabia, we’d call on Joshua to inform himself of the human rights situation and be prepared to speak out about Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record.