New York - The Middle East, in particular Saudi Arabia, has always been a talked about spot for hosting mega-events for boxing in the past. But talk is all it was. Whether it was fantasy or just talk to get a bigger site fee from a Las Vegas hotel property or other venues, it was never more than talk - until now.
In the past twelve months alone, Saudi Arabia will have hosted two World Wrestling Entertainment events along with the super middleweight final in the World Boxing Super Series and now it will host arguably the biggest fight that can be made in boxing when Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KO’s) aims to win back his titles from a stunning defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz (31-1, 20 KO’s), who was a late replacement for their first fight this past June.
The bout will take place December 7th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on the streaming platform DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
Eddie Hearn, the promoter of Joshua, thinks this trend of hosting fights in the Middle East will continue.
“They want to become the home of boxing,” Hearn told a group of reporters before the Joshua-Ruiz 2 press conference in New York.
“When they say that you have to take them very seriously. Every promoter has been trying to stage a boxing event in the Middle East for a number of years, but we were the first to do it... but unfortunately you’ll get the criticism that comes with it.”
The criticism has been heavy in terms of safety, the treatment of women and homosexuals as well as the recent controversy connected to the murder of a journalist. Hearn emphasized however that all are welcome.
“This event is open to men women children, everybody,” stated Hearn. “There are codes you have to respect for sure but in retrospect there were so many women at the initial press conference, maybe as much as men were there at the press conference. This is their opportunity to tell the world - everyone is welcome.”
The Saudis are willing to welcome more promoters to host events in the country, and for Hearn he feels it’s a disservice to fighters if their promoters won't consider the possibility of taking fights to a country like Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudis have told me that every promoter has told them they want to stage fights in Saudi. No country in the world right can possibly compete with the money that is available in the Middle East. It can be the home of mega-fights in boxing. So we either embrace it or fighters lose out,“ Hearn said.