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Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua is taking a “great risk” fighting in Saudi Arabia

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Promoter Eddie Hearn has praised Anthony Joshua 22-1 (21) for accepting a rematch with unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr 33-1 (22) on neutral territory.

Last week it was announced Ruiz Jr versus Joshua II would take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 7.

Joshua’s first bout outside of the UK ended disastrously when he was knocked out in seven rounds by the unheralded Ruiz Jr at New York’s Madison Square Garden in June.

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Hearn had previously state that Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales was the frontrunner to host the return bout for the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championships but Saudi Arabia swooped with a last-minute bid to host the fight, something that should please Ruiz Jr who has said he has no interest in facing Joshua in the UK.

Hearn told Sky Sports: “He [Ruiz Jr] didn’t want to fight in the UK, felt it was unfair. I don’t think AJ wants any excuses. He wants to make sure that he wins this fair and square and to do it on a neutral territory made sense.

“I don’t think Anthony Joshua needs to cash out. I think he’s doing alright. In terms of the risk, there is greater risk for him in this fight, doing it in a neutral venue, than over in the UK. I think that’s just common sense, but I admire him for that, he doesn’t fear a challenge.”

Mexican-American Ruiz Jr, 29, made his first public comment on social media since Saudi Arabia was announced as the host country.

“Ready for anything that come my way, you can’t scare me with a good time. Blessing to all my people, fans, family, everyone that has God in their heart, much love and remember dreams come true,” Ruiz Jr posted to Instagram.

The champion was pushing for the second fight to take place in either New York again or Mexico, but Hearn confirmed both fighters had signed for the fight.

“For Anthony Joshua, once you take away the controversy, the discussions, the curiosity, get down to the fight, which is the biggest fight in boxing, which is Anthony Joshua trying to regain his world heavyweight titles against Andy Ruiz, and it’s in Saudi Arabia,” Hearn continued.

“It’s going to be an event that will take your breath away, and it’s going to be an event that will go down in history with the iconic heavyweight moments in the past.

“But AJ must win and now in his mind, that’s all he’s working towards. He’s making sure he’s victorious and he regains his heavyweight world championship.”

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