Andy Ruiz Jr in a ‘very strong position’ over refusal to rematch Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia due to US State Department warnings – The Sun
16th August 2019

ANDY RUIZ JR is in a “very strong position” to refuse a rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia thanks to US State Department warnings.

Brit superstar AJ is set to get his crack at redemption against underdog hero Ruiz on December 7 in Diriyah.

But rival promoter Frank Warren told talkSPORT the Mexican-American champion has the means to avoid the Middle East showdown – as the US government advises American citizens not to travel there.

Warren said: “The bottom line is, the US State Department advises its citizens not to go to Saudi Arabia for many reasons.

"The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, human rights issues, they’ve got a long paragraph on torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, women’s rights and it talks about the risk of going to airports where terrorists may attack – that’s all on their official website.

“His own government is telling him his life could be in danger.

“All this nonsense about having his titles taken away from him, that is nonsense.

“You can be sued for breach of contract, and he may have a point there, but it’s not an easy case, that’s for sure.

“He has a very, very strong position for not travelling.”

After the announcement of the Middle East rematch the WBA, IBF and WBO champion claimed he had NOT signed for the second fight with Joshua.

However, promoter Eddie Hearn insists the deal agreed before the June 1 bout in New York included terms for the rematch – meaning Ruiz is contractually obliged to take the fight.

The champion, who scored a 25-1 upset against AJ at Madison Square Garden, has been threatened with legal action by Hearn if he refuses to travel for the Saudi Arabia bout.

Ruiz, though, is not the only party to raise concerns over the fight in Diriyah.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the world title fight is an opportunity for the Saudi authorities to try to “sportswash their severely tarnished image”.

Promoter Hearn, though, claims the decision to stage the fight in Saudi Arabia comes from the “vision” the country has to promote boxing – not the reported £82million fronted by sports entities to stage the bout.

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Hearn said: “I can’t tell you that money had nothing to do with it but it was more about the infrastructure and the fact they have done it before.

“We had to be very comfortable because we knew there would be criticism. And we also looked at the bigger picture.

“If he wins this fight it opens up a whole new world for him and for boxing. It could change the sport forever.”

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