Eddie Hearn says he has been approached to promote two shows in Saudi Arabia next year after the success of staging the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr rematch in the kingdom.
The shows would include a return to Diriyah, the town on the outskirts of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where the fight was staged in a purpose-built 15,000-seater temporary arena.
The Joshua-Ruiz world heavyweight title fight formed part of the Diriyah Season, a festival that included a Formula E motor race, an equestrian event, an ATP tennis tournament and a series of concerts. There are already plans in place to stage the festival again next year, while the Spanish Super Cup soccer tournament is heading to Saudi Arabia next year, along with the world’s richest horse race.
“The response was ‘it was so big for our country’ and they just want to know when the next one is,” Hearn said. “They want to plan for the future for bring more fights there.
“They wants us to come back maybe this year. Somewhere else in the spring and then maybe back to Diriyah in December. We will be looking at staging two events. As well as us, it presents massive opportunities for the fighters as well. Every fighter absolutely loved the week. The hospitality was first class, so, many more to come.”
Saudi Arabia’s big step into sport in the past year, funded by the country’s enormous oil wealth, is part of the government’s plan to present a more modern image to the world.
The ties between Matchroom and Saudi Arabia were strengthened this month when World Snooker agreed a deal to stage a world-ranking tournament in Riyadh next October. The chairman of World Snooker is Barry Hearn, Eddie’s father, who is also the chairman and founder of Matchroom.
Regular shows in Saudi Arabia would extend Matchroom’s global brand even farther. They already have deals for regular shows in the UK, United States, Mexico and Italy, as well as an annual show in Monaco. Last week they staged their first show in Spain – in Barcelona - with several expected next year. An expansion into Germany, on the back of a DAZN deal there, is also planned but has been delayed for the time being.