Saudi Arabia expected to host 'undisputed heavyweight boxing fight'

Joshua vs Fury: Saudi Arabia to host 'undisputed heavyweight boxing fight'
2 min read
18 April, 2021
Both fighters' camps have reportedly agreed to hold the bout in Saudi Arabia.
Sports commentators have said the fighters' camps have agreed to fight in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Saudi Arabia is expected to host an undisputed boxing title fight this summer, according to media reports.

The biggest clash in a generation will see two-time unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua take on current World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Tyson Fury.

Teams for the two fighters have signed a deal for the fight and while the date and venue are yet to be official confirmed, sports commentators have said both camps have agreed to hold the fight in Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, Jim White, sports broadcaster for Sky Sports News and talksSPORT, tweeted: "Saudi offer "real and acceptable to all parties." Minor details to be agreed. Looks like August, fight expected to generate 200m dollars."

A day earlier, Mark Kriegel, an author and journalist for ESPN, told talksSPORT that "Saudi Arabia was the frontrunner from the beginning, and that’s where everybody wants to go now".

"It's not real until someone under the auspices of the Saudi government puts money into escrow. Both sides have yet to sign – this is a crucial document – a memorandum of understanding. I've had several sources tell me today that they're, 'waiting for the paperwork from Saudi.'"

The decision to hold the fight in Saudi Arabia could generate renewed criticism for Joshua. When the unified champion defended his titles against Andy Ruiz in the Saudi city of Diraya in 2019, he was slammed for partaking in what was described Riyadh's attempt to "sportswash” its human rights record.

Read more: Joshua-Ruiz rematch puts Saudi sportswashing back in the ring

Hatice Cengiz, widow of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has already called on Joshua and Fury to turn down the lucrative deal, saying it would present Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who the CIA assessed to have approved the murder of Khashoggi – a financial "reward for his crimes".

"Sports should not be used for politics, nor to whitewash atrocities. Jamal was brutally murdered and it would be shameful if the man who stands accused of ordering it were allowed to benefit from this famous and profitable boxing match. I urge the organisers not to give him this reward for his crimes. We should instead stand together for justice and humanity." Cengiz, who is pursuing a legal case against MbS, told The Telegraph.

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