Eddie Hearn reveals real reason Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr 2 is set for Saudi Arabia

Anthony Joshua will rematch Mexico’s first heavyweight champion in Diriyah on December 7.

‘The Clash on the Dunes’ will see Joshua look to avenge his spectacular seventh-round loss to Ruiz Jr and reclaim the WBA (Super), WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles.

Ruiz vs Joshua II was expected to take place at either the Principality Stadium in Cardiff or Madison Square Garden in New York, the latter being the venue for AJ’s first professional loss.

A late £83million bid from the Saudi’s, however, saw the biggest fight of the year land in the Middle East.

Ruiz Jr was initially reluctant to fight Joshua in the UK due to concerns over the strictness of anti-doping testing following Dillian Whyte’s potential violation.

And Hearn has hinted the Mexican-American’s reservations about fighting Joshua on home soil led to their rematch taking place on neutral territory.

“He [Ruiz Jr] didn’t want to fight in the UK, felt it was unfair,” Hearn told Sky Sports News.

“I don’t think AJ wants any excuses. He wants to make sure that he wins this fair and square and to do it on a neutral territory made sense.

I knew that when we made the decision not every response would be positive, and that there would be criticism and controversy

Eddie Hearn on the backlash to Ruiz vs Joshua II taking place in Saudi Arabia

“I don’t think Anthony Joshua needs to cash out. I think he’s doing alright.

“In terms of the risk, there is a greater risk for him in this fight, doing it in a neutral venue, than over in the UK. I think that’s just common sense, but I admire him for that, he doesn’t fear a challenge.”

Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the bout has been met with plenty of criticism, with many bringing up the country’s history of human rights abuses.

Hearn anticipated a fierce backlash, saying: “I knew that when we made the decision not every response would be positive, and that there would be criticism and controversy.

“I’m a boxing promoter and sometimes the criticism and the curiosity will lead to an event of an extraordinary magnitude.”

Hearn has also dismissed the notion of Ruiz Jr vs Joshua 2 being sold to the highest bidder, insisting: “I can’t tell you that money had nothing to do with it but it was more about the infrastructure and the fact they have done it before.

“We had to be very comfortable because we knew there would be criticism. And we also looked at the bigger picture. If he wins this fight it opens up a whole new world for him and for boxing. It could change the sport forever.

“He’s always had the mindset of boxing all round the world. I expect him to box not just in Saudi Arabia but in Nigeria and in China. That’s an iconic global fighter, not just someone who boxes in Cardiff and Madison Square Garden.”

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