Boxing Insider Notebook: Haney, Joshua, Ruiz, ESPN, Plant, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 19th to November 26th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing
Diriyah Arena Ready for Clash on the Dunes Action
An iconic fight needs a spectacular venue and few can compare to the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia which is now ready for a historic night as the Clash On The Dunes sees World Champion Andy Ruiz Jr take on Anthony Joshua.
Earlier this week, Joshua promised the world an “iconic evening of boxing” as he flew into the Kingdom ahead of the epic bout on December 7.
The first-ever Heavyweight World Title fight to take place in the Middle East will be staged in the custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the home of heroes and kings.
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing, said: “The arena and site are utterly breath-taking, with a theme park and concert the night before as well. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before in boxing. The Clash On The Dunes will be a night to remember. We can’t wait.”
The Diriyah Arena has been constructed by 175 staff working tirelessly to transform the 10,000 sq m site, which includes 295 tonnes of steel, which would stretch 57km. Work began on October 7, just two months out, with 3,000 sqm of scaffolding needed to complete the work.
On the night more than 2,000 staff will ensure proceedings run smoothly in the arena, 95 percent of which is reusable, and which will take a month to take down.
Joshua will be looking to regain his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts after suffering defeat to Ruiz in New York earlier this year, but the British Heavyweight will have the backing of thousands of UK fans joining boxing enthusiasts from more than 60 countries across the world.
Fans will approach the Diriyah Arena via the Diriyah Oasis, a huge sprawling entertainment hub which includes ice-skating outdoors, sky diving, jetski-ing and ziplining among a host of activities on offer. The Diriyah Oasis is split into the four zones – Nature, Imagination, Reflection, Excitement- giving families a place to come together, and at its heart lies an astonishing grand installation by world-renowned Italian artist, Edoardo Tresoldi.
The Clash On The Dunes forms part of the Diriyah Season, epic month of sports which kicked off with Formula E at the weekend, the Diriyah Tennis Cup featuring eight of the best men’s players on the planet, and the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, an elite competition with Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifying points on the line.
The Diriyah Season is also supported by the Diriyah Music Festival with huge concerts taking place around the event. On December 6, the night before the Clash On The Dunes, major artists who are yet to be announced will perform. So far artists such as Imagine Dragons, DJ Alan Walker, Clean Bandit and Maluma have performed to 40,000 concert goers.
Tickets for all of the Diriyah Season’s spectacular events, concerts and entertainment will be available at www.diriyahseason.sa. Follow Diriyah Season’s news and announcements on the official social media pages on twitter and Instagram @diriyahseason.
Caleb Plant to Host Turkey Drive in his Hometown
This Wednesday, November 27, 2019, IBF super middleweight champion, Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (19-0, 11 KOs), will be hosting a turkey drive in his hometown of Ashland City, TN.
The Champ and his wife, FOX SPORTS announcer Jordan Plant, will personally hand out 100 turkeys to those in need. The Turkey Drive will take place on the Ashland City Courthouse Lawn, starting at 9:00 A.M CT.
“This is a chance to give back to those in need during the holiday season,” said Caleb Plant. “I felt it was important to come back home to Ashland City to give back to my community where it all started.”
WHO: CALEB PLANT, IBF Super Middleweight Champion.
JORDAN PLANT, FOX SPORTS Announcer.
WHAT: IBF Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant, and his wife, FOX
SPORTS announcer Jordan Plant, to host a Turkey Drive in,
Caleb’s hometown of Ashland City, TN.
WHERE: Ashland City, Courthouse Lawn
100 Public Square, Ashland City, TN 37015
WHEN: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
ESPN Celebrates 13th Annual V Week in Support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research
ESPN’s 13th consecutive V Week for Cancer Research begins on “Giving Tuesday,” Dec.3, and runs through Dec. 14. Throughout the week, ESPN will drive awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research across ESPN platforms and all net proceeds will go directly to cancer research and related programs. Last year, V Week helped raise a record $8.3 million, bringing the 12-year total of contributions to more than $30.5 million.
“V Week leverages ESPN platforms and partners to drive awareness of the continued fight against cancer and generates donations to the V Foundation,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president, ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “This year, we celebrate our dear friend and colleague, and the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award winner Stuart Scott, by honoring his courageous spirit to ‘Fight Like Hell.’ We’re honored to once again celebrate V Week and inspire fans to help support the V Foundation to one day eradicate cancer.”
The 2019 V Week will feature several new initiatives to raise funds for the V Foundation:
•Stuart Scott Day: In honor of famed ESPN television personality and 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award recipient Stuart Scott, who passed away from cancer in 2015, ESPN is dedicating Monday, Dec. 4, as “Stuart Scott Day.” On that day, ESPN will showcase content, which depicts Scott’s love of life and perseverance through his fight with cancer and his consistent message to “never give up.” A special, limited edition Stuart Scott t-shirt will go on sale starting Dec. 4 and all net proceeds of sales will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
•UFC “Fight Like Hell” Night: On Saturday, Dec. 7, UFC is dedicating its fight to the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, which supports groundbreaking minority cancer research. Scott had a strong connection to mixed martial arts and even trained during his treatments. “Fight Like Hell” Night will also feature Stuart Scott-related content all throughout fight night.
•“Ring the Bell to Knock Out Cancer” Night: Also during V Week, Top Rank will raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation by dedicating Saturday, Dec. 14, as “Ring the Bell to Knock Out Cancer” night. Within boxing, “ringing of the bell” symbolizes the end of the fight, and for patients with cancer and their healthcare team, the “ringing of the bell” is a significant moment as well, signaling the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer. The “ringing of the bell” will be a symbolic moment during the Top Rank fight, making fans aware of ESPN’s dedication to eradicating cancer. The fight will air on ESPN, Saturday, Dec. 14, at 9 p.m. ET.
•“Don’t Give Up on Me” Anthem: Multi-platinum selling pop artist Andy Grammer is invested in the mission to find cures for cancer, having lost his mother to breast cancer. The lyrics of his song “Don’t Give Up on Me” fit perfectly with the themes of fighting adversity, supporting a loved one, having belief in dark times and ultimately not giving up. Grammer’s song “Don’t Give Up on Me” will air during V Week campaigns, which aligns with the V Foundation theme of fighting adversity and motto of “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®
Additional V Week programming includes:
•Kicks to Beat Cancer (Dec. 2-Dec.12): Professional athletes, celebrities and musicians are putting their “kicks” to good use by reaching into their extensive shoe collections and donating a signed pair to be auctioned off in support of the V Foundation. Celebrities and sports stars past and present have donated their shoes, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, former NFL player Victor Cruz, Kansas City Chief athletes Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, fashion icon Anna Wintour, celebrity Kim Kardashian West, college basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, USA national soccer team athletes Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, and many more. Fans can bid on the shoes at www.ebay.com/espn.
•Jim Valvano’s ESPYS Speech Roadblock: Just once a year, nearly all of ESPN platforms pause regularly scheduled programming and run a “roadblock” in support of the V Foundation. On Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., the 15-minute roadblock will begin with a highlight by ESPN television personalities discussing Stuart Scott’s impact on the industry, his presence at ESPN and his fight with cancer. The roadblock also will highlight former N.C. State coach-turned ESPN commentator Jim Valvano’s legendary 1993 “Don’t Give Up” ESPYS speech. It will be offered simultaneously on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ACC Network, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN Radio, the ESPN App and ESPN.com. The roadblock will be streaming live on all networks listed and fans can access it on demand via ESPN3 replay. A captioned version also will be available on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square, HearstLive, the New York City Disney Store and within Disney Resorts. In addition, speeches from all Jimmy V Perseverance Award winners (Robin Roberts, Craig Sager and Jim Kelly) will air during V Week. Across all ESPN networks, the Bottomline scroll will encourage viewers to join ESPN and the V Foundation to achieve Victory Over Cancer®” by visiting v.org/donate.
The Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona will begin with the Women’s Classic on Sunday, Dec. 8, followed by the Men’s Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 10, all airing live on ESPN.
•Women’s Classic: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 UConn at 4 p.m. (Gampel Pavilion on UConn’s campus)
•Men’s Classic: No. 12 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Louisville at 7 p.m., and Indiana vs. UConn at 9 p.m. (Madison Square Garden); College GameDay will also be on-site, with host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg providing news and analysis in between games.
Devin Haney Visits Skid Row to Give Back to Those Less Fortunate
Earlier this week, WBC Lightweight Champion, Devin “The Dream” Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), spent his 21st birthday giving back to those less fortunate. The young boxing phenom spent time with the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. His plan was to feed as many people as he possibly could, serving one of his favorite dishes, garlic crab and shrimp with macaroni cheese, yams, and dessert.
When the food ran out, he gave everyone a little cash to brighten up their day. Devin loves to see people smiling and happy. He had an amazing birthday celebration on Sunday, and the very next day, he woke up and went out in the world to share.
“I really wanted to give back after my last fight, and that’s just what I did,” said Devin Haney. “I took my whole team out to skid row right after celebrating my 21st birthday. When I ran out of food, I passed out cash to those that didn’t get a plate. It was great seeing all the smiles on their faces. I’m grateful for the blessing that God has giving me I just want to bless others as well.”