It’s fight week for Unified Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz and his rematch title defense against Anthony Joshua. And, for the first time ever, a heavyweight title fight will be staged in Saudi Arabia.
And if you think that aspect is interesting, check out the 15,000 seat temporary stadium that has been constructed to host the fight:
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 2, 2019
As you can see from the Drone footage in Diriyah, a suburb of the capital city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the outdoor facility, which began construction just over a month ago, is mostly complete.
It is interesting that just as most venues that have Stadium-style seating with armrests, these seats will have the same. But, it also means that Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn want most of the crowd to be standing for most of the main event fight.
Ruiz and Joshua both arrived in Saudi Arabia last week and get set for the rematch of their June 1st battle at historic Madison Square Garden in New York. That’s when Joshua, making his United States debut and defending his WBA, WBO and IBF versions of the heavyweight championship, was stunned when the little-known American contender Ruiz stopped him on a seventh-round TKO.
Hearn solicited offers from the U.K., including at Wembley Stadium in London and the soccer stadium in Cardiff, Wales, which had both housed Joshua fights in the past. There was also some thought that the rematch would also be back at the Garden in New York, as to give Joshua a chance to completely erase his humiliating knockout loss this past summer.
Instead, the Saudi government ponied up a reported $40 million (U.S. Dollars) for the battle being dubbed as, “The Clash at the Dunes.”
And with Riyadh only being a couple of hours ahead of London time, that means the fight will be in prime time Saturday night in the UK. That’s unlike the first Joshua-Ruiz fight, which was shown in the early Sunday morning hours starting up around 4 a.m.
Now, the start time will hinder things in the United States on the DAZN broadcast, as with the time difference, it will be the middle of Saturday afternoon in the Eastern and Central time zones.
And the rematch is scheduled on the date of a massive College Football Saturday, which will dominate U.S. sports TV throughout the day and early evening.
Still, Hearn and Matchroom know that the bigger money is the Sky Sports Boxing PPV that are both anticipating a massive, if not record, pay-per-view audience in the U.K.
Back to the site in Saudi Arabia, the latest weather forecasts show that it will be around 80 degrees Saturday afternoon in Diriyah. However, the temperature will drop rapidly into the lower 50’s at fight time. That means the fighters will have to contend with the cooling (literally) in between rounds, while they are not active.
That is, provided that Ruiz-Joshua goes a few rounds, too.