Heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr promised on Wednesday that history would repeat itself when he takes on Anthony Joshua in December’s controversial rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Ruiz goes into the bout trying to defend the IBF, WBA and WBO titles he sensationally took from British fighter Joshua in New York in June.
“I know Anthony Joshua is coming hard, he’s coming strong. He’s preparing hard, but so am I,” Ruiz said at a media event near the Saudi capital Riyadh ahead of the ‘Clash on the Dunes’.
“December 7, I’m going to make another history and I’m going to win here in the same fashion that I won June 1.”
The bout will take place in Diriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh — a dramatic contrast to the iconic Madison Square Garden which hosted the first fight that ended in a seventh-round stoppage.
“Andy is champion now. That will last until December 7 when he puts his titles in the air,” said Joshua.
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“Two warriors to go war and the best man will walk out victorious.”
The event is mired in controversy as the Saudis have faced intense diplomatic fallout over last year’s murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the conservative kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi rulers have utilised sport as a tool to try and soften their international image and to provide a showcase, they claim, for reforms inside the oil-rich state.
In February, they hosted a first European Tour golf event which was won by former world number one Dustin Johnson while the world’s most gruelling motor sports race, the Dakar Rally, will be held in the country in 2020.
In July, British boxer Amir Khan won the WBC international welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Australian Billy Dib in Jeddah.