Published: Sun, August 11, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Amnesty raise concerns over Anthony Joshua fighting boxing rematch in Saudi Arabia

Amnesty raise concerns over Anthony Joshua fighting boxing rematch in Saudi Arabia

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.

Back on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Ruiz shocked the world when he dropped Joshua four times to secure a seventh round stoppage. According to TMZ, both boxers have signed off to fight on December 7th and instead of fighting in either boxers hometown, the bout will take place in Saudi Arabia. A press conference is also set for Monday in London where Hearn will be joined by Saudi reps to reveal details on the fight, like the start time.

As it stands, Ruiz-Joshua 2 will most likely be the biggest fight of 2019 (unless Canelo Alvarez and arch foil Gennady Golovkin somehow miraculously end up engaging in a third battle by year's end).

Saudi rulers, also under fire for the war in neighbouring Yemen, have utilised sport as a tool to try and soften their worldwide image and to provide a showcase, they claim, for reforms inside the oil-rich state.

Amnesty International criticised the choice of Saudi Arabia for the bout, citing human rights violations, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the ongoing war in Yemen.

"Despite some long-overdue reforms on women's rights, Saudi Arabia is now 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".

Saudi Arabia last hosted a boxing event when Amir Khan beat Billy Dib in July.

"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". Although well regarded, Ruiz was never seen as much of a threat to any of the major players in the reinvigorated heavyweight division.

Joshua's defeat to Ruiz Jr - a late replacement for the disgraced Jarrell Miller, who tested positive for three performance-enhancing drugs - was the biggest upset in boxing history James "Buster" Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990.

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