IT’S unheard of that a press conference to announce a fight as big as the Andy Ruiz Jr-Anthony Joshua rematch goes ahead without the fighters in attendance. But this whole rivalry, right from its inception, is no ordinary fare.
Not only did Joshua and Ruiz – a substitute for drug cheat Jarrell Miller – combine to stun an entire planet when the Mexican American dethroned the heavyweight champion inside New York’s Madison Square Garden in June, they have now raised as many eyebrows by agreeing to renew their hostilities in Saudi Arabia. A yet-to-be constructed 12,000-seater stadium in Diriyah, a town on the outskirts of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, will host the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight title fight on December 7.
The news was not well-received when it landed last week. Social media was ablaze with criticism and concern. Amnesty International were quick to voice their disgust at the sanctioning of the bout in the country. They cited human rights violations, severe sexual discrimination against women, the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing war in Yemen.