Andy Ruiz has thrown plans to hold his rematch with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia into major doubt after claiming the fight will “be on my terms” because he wants it “back here in the United States”.
Issuing the comments during a live Twitter video Q+A, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion confirmed that the rematch will happen in the near future, but that the location remains very much up in the air.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom made the surprising announcement earlier in the week that the rematch will take place in Diriyah, not far from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, and that measures are already being put into place to enable fans to travel from the UK, along with obtaining a visa when purchasing fight tickets.
Hearn has had to vehemently defend the decision given Saudi Arabia’s history with human rights abuses and the treatment of women and homosexuals, but Ruiz’s comments casts new doubt over whether the fight will actually take place in the Middle East at all.
“I know everybody is talking about the fight and all that but we got the real news coming soon and the fight is going to happen soon,” said Ruiz, who then proceeded to read out and answer questions from fans.
“’AJ got the rematch?’ Yes we’ve got the rematch,” the American said.
“‘Are we taking that rematch champ?’ Of course, but it’s going to be on my terms and our terms. We’re going to bring it back here in the United States.
“‘AJ, he’s scared?’ Hell yeah, why do you think he’s over there trying to make the fight in Saudi Arabia? Like I said, I don’t have no protection over there. The United States of America wants to ... never mind, I can’t say nothing, but the fight is going to happen soon.”
Ruiz’s claim that the fight will be on his terms goes completely against what Hearn announced on Monday, when the promoter appeared alongside Omar Khalil, the managing partner of Skull Challenge Entertainment to claim that Ruiz had signed his side of the rematch contract.
“They have 100 per cent signed the contract for this fight,” Hearn said. “This is boxing. Of course, when Andy Ruiz signed the contract for the first and second fights, it was a dream come true for him.
“He would have taken much less to be honest with you. Once he wins the first fight, every man and his dog from his local gym is telling him he should be getting this and that.
“The deal was very fair, the deal was negotiated and everyone who signed that deal, whether it was Tom Brown, his promoter, whether it’s Ruiz himself, Al Haymon, his management company, they all know their obligations.
“They made it clear they didn’t want to come to the UK. We were within our rights to stage it in the UK, but to be honest with you, we didn’t want any excuses. There would have been 10 times more problems with Andy Ruiz to come to the UK than a neutral venue.
“That process was discussed with them and they said they would be a lot more comfortable to go to Saudi Arabia and once that decision was made, the contracts were signed last Wednesday or Thursday, myself and Tom Brown emailed the governing bodies to let them know the date of the fight, the venue for the fight and that process is confirmed with the governing bodies.”