Sport

Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr: Rematch in Saudi Arabia on 7 December

Britain’s Anthony Joshua will face unified world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in Saudi Arabia on 7 December.

The pair fought in New York in June, with Ruiz earning a shock seventh-round stoppage victory to hand Joshua his first professional loss.

Ruiz, who was knocked down in the third round before recovering, picked up the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO world titles.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium had been among the options to host the rematch.

Joshua, 29, had said his preference was to fight in the Welsh capital, where he has previously fought in front of crowds of more than 70,000 people for his wins over Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker.

However, 29-year-old Ruiz, who was born in the United States but has Mexican heritage, had ruled out a fight taking place in the United Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia hosted British boxer Amir Khan’s recent win over Billy Dib and Callum Smith’s success over George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series final in September.

The country hosted the opening race of the Formula E season in December, is in talks to host a Formula 1 race before 2021 and recently announced it will stage the richest race in horseracing history in February.

However, when Khan accepted his bout with Dib, Amnesty International highlighted Saudi Arabia’s “abysmal human rights record”.

The fight will be broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and Joshua’s promoters, Matchroom Boxing, said a news conference would be held on Monday, 12 August when more details would be revealed.

One issue that has not yet been disclosed is the start time of the fight.

If the bout started at midnight in the Middle East in December it would be taking place in early afternoon in Los Angeles and early evening in New York – times which could prove unpopular with fans in America paying to stream what will be the biggest fight in the sport this year.

Ruiz scored four knockdowns on his way to a seventh-round stoppage on what was Joshua’s much-publicised US debut on 1 June. The result ranked as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the heavyweight division, with Joshua a 1-25 favourite before the bout.

Since his win, Ruiz has questioned Joshua’s boxing skills, while Joshua has spoken of a belief in his ability to “right my wrongs”.