Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr will take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7, his promoters Matchroom have announced.
Joshua will be bidding to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles which Ruiz ripped from him in a stunning four-knockdown upset at Madison Square Garden in June.
The rematch will be the latest high-profile boxing event to be held in the country after Amir Khan’s victory over Australian Billy Dib in July.
The Kingdom also hosted the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final between British pair Callum Smith and George Groves last year.
Joshua’s bout with Ruiz Jr will take place in Diriyah, a town on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh, which incorporates the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al-Turaif.
Cardiff’s Principality Stadium was among the venues proposed for the rematch but Ruiz Jr had insisted the bout must take place either back in the United States or on neutral territory.
Joshua was left stunned by Ruiz Jr, who stepped in to fight him at five-and-a-half weeks’ notice after his initial opponent, Jarrell Miller, failed a drugs test.
After being knocked down four times he was stopped in the seventh round on his US debut, marking one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history.
Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn immediately activated their rematch clause and targeted a bout in the UK but Ruiz Jr responded: “That is not going to happen.”
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A “freak accident” has forced Belfast boxer Carl Frampton to pull out of his scheduled bout against Emmanuel Dominguez.
The Northern Irishman said a “large ornament” had fallen on his left hand in a hotel lobby, fracturing his fifth metacarpal.
He said: “I’m absolutely devastated.”
The 32-year-old had been due to fight Mexico’s Dominguez in Philadelphia on Saturday ahead of a shot at the featherweight title.
Frampton tweeted a video earlier in the day showing him running on a treadmill during what he called his “last hard session”.
He said: “It’s fight week now, training done, time to focus on the fight!”
The injury marked another setback in Frampton’s quest to again be a world champion.
He had considered retirement following December’s shock defeat by Josh Warrington before then preparing to fight earlier this summer.
But the adjournment of his court case with former manager Barry McGuigan ensured a delay.
The boxer, who has been the world champion at featherweight and super-batmanweight levels, signed a multi-fight deal with influential US promoters Top Rank in March.
British heavyweight Dillian Whyte is facing a potential life ban after testing positive for a banned substance, PA understands
The 31-year-old Londoner is understood to have returned the positive test, which was conducted by UK Anti-Doping, three days before his fight against Colombian Oscar Rivas at The O2 on Saturday.
When testing agencies take blood or urine from athletes, they split the samples into A and B samples, with the latter being a smaller amount used for back-up, re-analysis or verification purposes.
When told about the initial positive, Whyte asked for his B sample to be tested, as is his right, which would not have been possible until this week.
This meant UKAD, the sport’s governing body the British Boxing Board of Control and the World Boxing Council’s chosen testing agency the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency had little option but to allow him to fight.
In a tweet on Wednesday, promoter Eddie Hearn wrote: “Further to reports I can confirm that both Dillian Whyte and Oscar Rivas were subject to extensive VADA and UKAD testing for their bout. Both fighters were cleared to fight by both bodies and the BBBofC.”
This is true but the context to this is that a positive A sample is only the start of a process that may or may not result in an anti-doping sanction.
Further to reports I can confirm that both Dillian Whyte and Oscar Rivas were subject to extensive VADA and UKAD testing for their bout. Both fighters were cleared to fight by both bodies and the BBBofC— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) July 24, 2019
To prevent Whyte from taking part in a high-profile contest – and further his claim to a shot at WBC belt-holder Deontay Wilder – at this early stage in the process would have opened UKAD up to a huge legal risk if he is eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
Last year, UKAD gave Tyson Fury a backdated two-year ban following a disputed positive test in 2015. The agency could have pushed for a four-year ban but, having already spent nearly £600,000 in legal fees, it reached an agreement with the British heavyweight.
UKAD has declined to comment on what happens next with Whyte but, as the B sample almost always confirms the A sample, it is highly likely this case will now be passed to the independent National Anti-Doping Panel.
Whyte, of course, has been through this process before, having tested positive for a banned stimulant after his victory over Hungary’s Sandor Balogh in October 2012.
That was the ninth straight win of the former kickboxing champion’s boxing career but it was his last fight until November 2014, as he was given a two-year ban.
Whyte’s defence at the time was that he had made a silly mistake by taking a popular and readily available training supplement without checking its ingredients – an error made by many athletes over the years but not an excuse usually accepted by the anti-doping authorities and his appeal against the sanction was rejected.
Now, having already served one sanction, Whyte is facing the prospect of a lifetime ban for a second offence.
Since his comeback, he has fought 18 times, losing only once to British rival Anthony Joshua in 2016.