By: Sean Crose
“It’s amazing man,” said WBA, IBF, and WBO world heavyweight titlist Andy Ruiz, commenting on Saudi Arabia’s newly constructed Diriyah Arena. “It’s crazy how they built everything in a month and a half. It’s amazing to be fighting over here, it’s going to be really historic and I’m planning to make history over here.” The fifteen thousand seat arena has been erected specifically to house next Saturday’s rematch between Ruiz and the man he beat, former titlist Anthony Joshua, in an upset thriller last spring. The bout, which will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service, is quite possibly the most anticipated fight of the year.
Per Matchroom Boxing, which is promoting the match: “The 15,000-seater stadium has been constructed in the ancient remains of Saudi Arabia’s first capital, a place fittingly known as the ‘home of kings and heroes.” Ruiz was clearly impressed with how fast the facility had been constructed. “It’s a lot different. When I first got here none of this was here so it’s unbelievable. All the workers and all the people who have put their efforts in, their designs in, this event and this arena is just something amazing.”
Some have been vocally opposed to Ruiz-Joshua2 going down in a nation regularly targeted for engaging in human rights abuses. The promoters decided to move ahead, however, and now all eyes will be on Saudi Arabia, rather than New York, Las Vegas, or London. As for the defending champion, the 33-1 Ruiz is focusing on the considerable challenge of besting the 22-1 Joshua a second time. “Right now, we are meditating, we are preparing, we are getting sharper in the ring and training as well,” the fighter known as “Destroyer” claimed. “We are visualizing the fight and becoming victorious.”
Ruiz literally stunned the sports’ world in early June when he stopped Joshua in the Englishman’s American debut at Madison Square Garden. It was arguably supposed to be a pit stop in the undefeated Joshua’s stunning career, a chance for the man to introduce himself in person to American audiences before eventually moving on to more colorful battles with the likes of Deontay Wilder, and/or Tyson Fury. The pudgy challenger ruined a lot of plans that night, but probably gained a lot of fans, as well, as everyone loves a Rocky story. “To all my fans please come and support me,” said Ruiz. “it’s going to be a huge fight, it’s the Clash On The Dunes. We are two big guys fighting each other looking to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World.”
Although he won the first battle with Joshua, it wasn’t a one sided affair, and fans and analysts are wondering exactly how this rematch will turn out. “He’s trying to take my belts away,” Ruiz claimed, “so I’m going to do everything that’s possible to win and I’m going to do it for all my people.” As for what fans can expect on December 7th when he faces Joshua for the second time, Ruiz was abundantly clear. “They can expect to see someone who is not giving up,” he said, “and doing everything possible to win, God willing we are going to take this victory.”