IT may come as a surprise but apparently Anthony Joshua wouldn’t mind having his WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jnr back at the scene of the crime – Madison Square Garden, New York.
Most expected Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, to try and host the second fight between the pair, tentatively scheduled for either November or December, in the United Kingdom. It was thought they would want home advantage, as well as every other possible advantage, in the quest to regain what Joshua surrendered on June 1 in New York.
This, however, might not be the case. In fact, according to Hearn, Joshua quite likes the idea of settling the score in the very venue that hosted his trauma at the start of the month.
“The job over the next week is just to finalise the details now of just where and when that will be,” Hearn told Sky Sports News.
“I can’t tell you too much. All I know is that between November 16 and December 14 will be the date of the fight. We’ve had offers from five different countries to stage the fight. For me, it’s a straight decision between the UK or America.
“In the UK, we’re talking to Cardiff, to Wembley, to Tottenham, and in America we’ve had a couple of approaches, but our preference is Madison Square Garden.
“A sensible man would say, ‘Do it in the UK.’
“Anthony feels as though it would be special to rewrite history and get the win at Madison Square Garden. It’s really not about the money so much, it’s just about where we believe this fight should take place and those decisions will be made in the next week.”
Whether it’s Joshua who wants the fight back at MSG, or the demands of Ruiz, the new champion, triggering this latest shift in momentum is anyone’s guess. But there will no doubt be a few rethinking their rematch predictions if Ruiz, so impressive first time around, manages to get the return back on home soil.
For months now we have been led to believe 2020 will be the year Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, and Tyson Fury get together in a ring and sort out their draw from last December.
There was talk of other fights this year, necessary to build Fury’s profile (and Wilder’s, it should be said), and we were assured this was the sensible approach, both in terms of building anticipating and swelling the coffers some more.
Now, though, there could be a chance the two meet again sooner than we first anticipated. Fury’s promoter in America, Bob Arum, believes the former world heavyweight champion’s shellacking of Tom Schwarz last weekend was so captivating, and made such an impression on an American audience, that there may no longer be the need to let the Wilder drama marinate much longer.
“I think we really have to look at the situation,” Arum told NBC Sports. “It will be up to ESPN and FOX. Maybe we go right to the fight now. I felt I needed two fights with Tyson Fury in order to really have the public take a look at him and realise what a phenomenal athlete and entertainer he is.
“But because ESPN did such a magnificent job in helping us promote this last fight with Schwarz, maybe we can go right now into a Wilder fight. That would depend again on how the other side feels about it.
“Maybe I think we should be talking about it and stop fooling around with interim fights. We saw with the Joshua vs. Ruiz fight that anything can happen.”
If Wilder vs. Fury II does happen ahead of time – or, you know, exactly when it should – we will have yet another reason to thank Andy Ruiz Jnr.
All hail ‘Rocky Mexicano’.