ANTHONY JOSHUA can “change boxing for ever” by fighting Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.
AJ's rematch after his shock IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight demolition in June has been scheduled for the outskirts of Riyadh on December 7.
The decision to stage the “Clash on the Dunes” in the Gulf state has been condemned by human rights groups including Amnesty International.
But Joshua’s manager and promoter Eddie Hearn sidestepped the issue as he insisted he was merely following in the footsteps of other sports.
Hearn said: “Look at the organisations who have been there. We've seen Formula E, golf’s European Tour, the Italian Super Cup, boxing’s super-series and WWE.
“This is an iconic moment for boxing. It could change boxing for ever.”
Joshua and Matchroom will share an estimated £33m of the fight gate, with Ruiz taking just £7.4million despite being the title-holder.
Ruiz stunned world boxing when he ripped the belts from the Brit at Madison Square Gardens, in what was the sport’s biggest shock since Buster Douglas dethroned Mike Tyson in 1990.
Despite suggestions that the Ruiz camp had not agreed to take the bout, Hearn said: “Both fighters have signed for the rematch and all governing bodies have confirmed the dates for this.”
Cardiff’s Principality Stadium could have brought a 70,000-plus crowd.
Instead, a purpose-built “breathtaking” open air venue will house as far as 12,000, although Hearn suggested it could bu up to 16,000.
Hearn added: “We have to realise there is another world outside of Cardiff and Madison Square Gardens and we have an obligation to grow the sport to new areas.
“We wanted to go somewhere who believed in boxing, that had a vision.
“Once we knew Saudi Arabia were for real and investing in the sport that was important.”
The Saudi authorities will give 30-day visas for any fans with tickets and Hearn added: “If you are making the trip, it’s going to be an incredible experience for fight fans.
“There will be events around the fight itself and an undercard to blow you away.
“And if you are on your sofa in the UK, it’s good news. The first bell will be around 9.30pm.”
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