It took a pretty big chunk of change, but Andy Ruiz Jr. has reportedly agreed to fight Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia after initially balking at the setting, according to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger.
Ruiz, the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champ, is contractually obligated to fight Joshua due to a clause in his contract from their first fight, which Ruiz won in shocking fashion.
It was initially announced Ruiz and Joshua would meet again on Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia, but political criticism around the country following the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi was a sticking point for the reigning champ.
Like most standoffs, the remedy turned out be a significant amount of money. The Athletic reports that Ruiz reached an agreement to fight in Saudi Arabia as scheduled in exchange for a raise from an $8 million guaranteed package to a $10 million package.
DAZN, which streamed the first fight, is also reportedly in the process of finalizing a deal to broadcast the rematch.
Joshua would have been within his rights to locate the fight in his native United Kingdom, but a reported $40 million offer from a group in Saudi Arabia was enough for promoter Eddie Hearn to give up home ring advantage and take the event to the Middle East.
Joshua still figures to be a favorite heading into fight, but we’ve obviously heard that before. Ruiz’s upset put boxing back into national news, but his legacy could become so much more than one fight with a win.
Now, Ruiz just has to journey to a country that has a U.S. State Department travel advisory due to “terrorism and the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets” to pull it off.
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