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Ruiz-Joshua, the ‘combat of the dunes’ and the controversy in Riyadh

Ruiz-Joshua, the ‘combat of the dunes’ and the controversy in Riyadh

A rematch surrounded by controversy. Briton Anthony Joshua steps into the ring to try to regain his three heavyweight belts against the new king Andy Ruiz Jr., who dethroned him six months ago, on Saturday (8:00 p.m. GMT) in a fight to be played at the gates of Ryad.

Ruiz, who was born in the United States but has Mexican origins, starred in one of the great surprises in the history of the boxing by inflicting his first professional loss on Joshua and snatching the WBA, WBO and IBF crowns from him in a June fight in New York.

If Ruiz’s victory was witnessed by a temple like Madison Square Garden, the rematch will be played in Diriyah, a small city near Riyadh and one of the centers of the new sports diplomacy that is driving the kingdom.

– Criticisms of Amnesty International –

Amnesty International criticized the location of the fight, alluding to the history of human rights violations in the Gulf country, with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in Turkey and the conflict with Yemen since 2015.

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The dispute of the fight in a neutral place was one of the requests of Andy Ruiz, who did not wish to fight in Great Britain.

Ruiz, 30, was “happy” to be in Saudi Arabia. «I feel really good, like at home. Everyone has treated me with affection and I am especially enjoying the great food they have in this country, “he added.

Joshua, 1.98 meters and also 30 years old, identified as the man called to dominate the heavy, declared to be “hungry, determined and concentrated” to recover what was lost, in a fight that will begin at local midnight.

“I am not for the show, I am to win,” said the Briton, whose record is 22 victories, 21 of them by knockout, and only one defeat, against Ruiz, which he blamed on “lack of experience.”

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To try his revenge against the Californian (33 wins, 1 loss, 22 knockouts), smaller (1.88 meters) but also faster and above all less muscular, Joshua has trained with similar profiles.

To gain mobility, the Briton has lost weight, going from 112 in June to 108.

Changes that do not seem to disturb Ruiz: «I know that he will come with a different plan, that he is prepared, motivated, that he has lost weight and that he will try to set me up, but my job is simply to prevent all this. I am prepared for everything ».

– Riad converted to Las Vegas –

Regardless of what happens in the ring, the big winner of the evening is Saudi Arabia, determined to turn sport into its new diplomatic weapon. For the occasion, he built a 15,000-seat pavilion in record time.

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And to attract his protagonists, he invested more than 100 million dollars: 60 for Joshua, 40 for the Matchroom promoter and 9 for Ruiz, for whom this amount had been set as a condition in his first fight.

“All boxers want to fight here. With all the respect I owe to Las Vegas, this site has the ability to organize any match, “Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom, told The Guardian. Boxing.

Besides of boxing, Saudi Arabia has just organized a Grand Prix of Electric Formula and will soon hold a tennis exhibition (12-14 December), the 2020 Dakar rally (5-17 January) and the Spanish Football Super Cup, this season and the next two .

rcw / bb / pm / gh

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