By: Hans Themistode
The rumble in Saudi Arabia between unified Heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua and former champion Andy Ruiz Jr, was a historic one, but it just doesn’t compare to the Rumble in the jungle. That contest of course, took place between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on October 30th, 1974 in the Congo.
Joshua’s matchup against Ruiz plays second fiddle to Ali and Foreman for several reasons. Significance of the contest, two larger than life names and of course, the location.
Becoming the next Ali is impossible. Many have him as the best fighter that has ever laced up a pair of gloves. Not Joshua, nor any other fighter will ever leave the sort of legacy that he left behind, but they can at least attempt to walk in his first steps.
Between mandatory challengers Kubrat Pulev for the IBF and Oleksandr Usyk for the WBO, there really won’t be much of a surprise in who he’ll be taking on, but in terms of where the contest could actually take place, that one might just surprise you.
“Eddie Hearn is exploring an option in the Congo,” said Joshua’s manager Freddie Cunningham. “There has been an approach.”
It’s not exactly the rumble in the jungle, but if a matchup between WBC titlist Deontay Wilder or Lineal champion Tyson Fury could happen in the Congo, well then now we’re talking.
As fun as it is to sit back and think about these fantasy matchups, that’s all that they are, a fantasy. The matchups are just fictitious because of the unlikelihood of Joshua jumping inside of the ring against either of them at this moment, but also because apparently, Joshua and his team have other locations in mind.
“For the next fight, Africa is not the right time. But at some point he 100 percent wants it,” said Cunningham. It went so well in Saudi that they will want to be kept in the loop. And there are always options in the UK – Tottenham’s stadium is great and local to where AJ grew up.”
For years fans in the United States have waited for Joshua to cross the pond and make his debut. In the process of waiting, Joshua dominated everyone. The moment that he decided to take a bout in the US however, he was surprisingly stopped in the seventh round against Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua would of course make things right when he outboxed Ruiz in Saudi Arabia on December 7th, but it now seems as though the unified champion has no intentions of returning to the US anytime soon.
“There are a lot of options internationally, but he does want to box back in the UK,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Tottenham would be keen to do it and it would be a nice stadium to do it in London.”
If Joshua truly won’t come back to the US for the foreseeable future then a contest in the Congo would at least be a historic one. Depending on the opponent.