Hearn: Ruiz contractually obliged to fight Joshua in Riyadh

By Sports Desk August 14, 2019

Eddie Hearn says the heavyweight rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua will take place in Saudi Arabia despite the champion declaring it would be staged in the United States.

Matchroom Boxing last week announced the pair will step into the ring to do battle for a second time in Riyadh on December 7 after Ruiz refused to fight in the United Kingdom.

Yet Ruiz stated in a social-media Q+A that he would not be defending his IBF, WBA and WBO titles in the Middle East.

Hearn, Joshua's promoter, responded by stating that the Mexican will be heading to Saudi Arabia.

"The contract for the rematch was signed prior to the first fight," Hearn told Sky Sports. "They are both signed at the same time. There is no other contract.

"We have to let [Ruiz Jr] know the time, date and venue which we have done. That's it.

"They are contractually bound for the rematch. There are no conversations between the two teams about not doing the fight. I don't perceive a problem.

"He signed a contract with us that he was absolutely over the moon with, that gave him the opportunity of a lifetime. He will 100 per cent honour that contract.

"His choice is to have a legal battle that could put him out of boxing for years, or to defend his belts for a lot of money against a guy he has already beaten. There isn't any doubt he will take the fight."

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    Ruiz was a late replacement for Jarrell Miller when he pulled off a huge shock and stopped Joshua in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden in June to claim the IBF, WBA and WBO straps.

    The rematch has been set for December 7 in Riyadh and WBC belt-holder Wilder is anticipating a repeat result.

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    "I saw Ruiz punch Joshua in the temple and it knocked his equilibrium out. He could not recover and that meant he got knocked down four times. When you are in a situation where you have not been before, it is like life teaching you a lot of lessons on the job.

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    Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn said Ruiz, who refused to fight Briton Joshua in the United Kingdom, is contractually obliged to take part in Saudi Arabia after the champion stated on social media he would not be heading to the Middle East.

    Wilder said: "As far as location is concerned, they need to have a neutral venue, one that not only satisfies the fighters but the fans too.

    "It should be somewhere people have knowledge about, it is too late to figure out the history of a country. Will it be safe? God forbid, if anything happens to someone or their family. I can understand why Ruiz does not want to go there."

    Wilder will defend his title against Luis Ortiz, though a date and location is yet to be announced, and is then set to have a rematch with Tyson Fury before attempting to unify the division.

    "Ortiz is definitely happening. I am looking forward to fighting him. After I knock him out I will go to Fury, knock him out and then we will go for a unification," Wilder said.

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    "We know the world wants to see the Canelo trilogy but there are so many opportunities out there for Gennady all over the world and we look forward to working together on them," Hearn said. 

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    The fighters' camps had been given until September 4 to agree to a fight or the IBF would order a purse bid.

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