World Boxing News understands Saudi Arabia has made a late bid to stage the Andy Ruiz v Anthony Joshua rematch later this year.
After weeks of talks since their shock first bout at Madison Square Garden, a venue stalemate had threatened negotiations.
As WBN revealed, New York was initially agreed as the stage for a second bout, which was contracted once Ruiz stunned Joshua on June 1st.
Streaming service DAZN, who own broadcast rights, insisted on MSG for the return. Eddie Hearn on the other hand, Joshua’s promoter, was keen to give his man home advantage in the UK.
Ruiz, Mexico’s first-ever heavyweight champion, was unequivocal in his insistence Britain would not be the host. This was made all the more final once Dillian Whyte tested postive for a banned substance before his victory over Oscar Rivas on July 20.
With both sides deadlocked, an alternative to Saudi Arabia has now emerged late in the day. WBN believes the country is now the favorite to secure Ruiz v Joshua 2 for November or December.
The Principality Stadium in Wales was Hearn’s first choice. But Saudi could be a very lucrative move once finalized for the two protagonists.
Amir Khan has been making big moves in the area recently, making a whopping £7 million purse for a fight against Billy Dib. Amir got all of Saudi Arabia on their toes, they were thrilled for the fight and were all betting on him.
A huge and high-profile heavyweight battle will certainly be worth well into eight-figures to Ruiz and Joshua respectively.
Thrashing out the last few points of the deal could be done by the end of this week, with Matchroom, DAZN, and Hearn potentially confirming the clash in the coming days.
Joshua will attempt to win back his four versions of the top division crown. Ruiz, who begins the underdog once again despite dropping ‘AJ’ four times, will aim to give handler Al Haymon full control over the division.
A massive undisputed unification with Deontay Wilder could then be on the cards for 2020.
Speaking exclusively to WBN last month, Wilder even said he may be willing to delay a rematch with Tyson Fury to face Ruiz.
“Anything is possible in boxing, we’ll see what happens with the rematches,” Wilder exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I’d love to unify all the belts. It’s coming down to it. It’s getting closer and closer to a unification (with Ruiz).
“I think that’s what the heavyweight division is missing. We need one champion, one face, one name, it’s Deontay Wilder. I can’t wait for that to happen. I’m the right guy for the job.”
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay