‘Clash on the Dunes’ will make boxing history, vow Ruiz, Joshua

Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr., left, and Britain’s Anthony Joshua came face to face in Ad Diriyah for the first time since their world title fight in New York in June. (AN photo)
Updated 10 September 2019

‘Clash on the Dunes’ will make boxing history, vow Ruiz, Joshua

  • Stage is set for the first-ever world heavyweight title fight in the Kingdom
  • Fighters square off at press conference in the historic Ad Diriyah city

RIYADH: Boxing history will be written in the sands of Saudi Arabia as Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua promise the colossal “Clash on the Dunes” will go down as one of the most iconic fights of all time. 

Ahead of the first-ever heavyweight world title fight to be held on Dec. 7 as part of Ad Diriyah Season, the fighters met face-to-face for the first time since Ruiz Jr. snatched champions belts away from Joshua in a shock win in New York, back in June.

In a highly charged press conference on Wednesday at the stunning UNESCO heritage site of Diriyah, fittingly known as the ‘land of kings and heroes’ and located on the outskirts of Riyadh, the pair squared off and vowed their battle would be a classic.

Former unified heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist Joshua, who has 22 wins to 1 loss with 21 knockouts, told journalists: “It you look at my career it has all been about defining moments, it has been about giving the fans something to cherish. I want to do big things in boxing, and I want this fight to be known as one of the iconic rematches of all time.

INTERVIEW: Andy Ruiz Jr ‘blessed’ to be in Saudi Arabia ahead of Anthony Joshua December rematch 

“Our last fight was one of those defining moment for me, but I’ve learned from that and now I’m going to unleash the beast, and I shall walk away victorious. We’ve got a massive contest on our hands and I’m excited to be bringing that to a new set of fans. As an Olympic champion I know that sports fans share the same deep passion wherever they are in the world. I’m expecting there to be incredible energy from the crowd and that gives you something extra in the ring, especially when you see the passion there is for the sport in Saudi Arabia.

“For me this is about challenging myself as a man, as an athlete, and creating a moment in boxing history that no one will forget. This fight in Diriyah will be as important for the sport of boxing as it is for me.”

Ruiz  (33 wins,1 loss with 22 knockouts) unified the heavyweight championship by stopping Joshua to capture his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world titles in one of the biggest heavyweight upsets of all time at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1. In doing so, ‘The Destroyer’ created history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican heritage to be crowned world heavyweight champion.

Our last fight was one of those defining moment for me, but I’ve learned from that and now I’m going to unleash the beast, and I shall walk away victorious.

Anthony Joshua, former unified heavyweight champion

Dubbed by his father as ‘Rocky Mexicano’, Ruiz said: “I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. I dethroned the king back in June and made history becoming the first Mexican/American champion of the world. Now I get to be the first champion to defend world heavyweight titles in the Middle East, whichever way you look at this, the Clash on the Dunes in Saudi Arabia will go down in history, that’s a fact.

“I’m looking forward to ending his career here in Diriyah. I will show the greatness of Mexican boxing in Saudi Arabia. I thrive on taking big hits, they are just fuel for me, it is ‘go hard or go home’ with my boxing.

“I showed the world once and I will show them again. I have been working and the fans, both here in Saudi Arabia, and watching around the globe, can expect an unforgettable boxing match.”

The rematch will be part of the Diriyah season hosted by the General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia which will also include the second Formula E Championship to be hosted in the Kingdom.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al-Saud, Chairman of the GSA, said: “At heart Saudi Arabia is a nation of sports fans and both athletes and audiences can expect to be knocked out by the passionate reception this event will enjoy in the Kingdom.

“Sports will always be a key focus for our government. We have talented sportsmen and women, engaged spectators and an ambitious vision to develop the sports sector to the highest levels.

“We have already seen the energy created by boxing when we staged the World Boxing Super Series match last year, this landmark moment – the first World Heavyweight Title fight in the Middle East — now takes that excitement to a whole new level.”

Boxing promoter and managing Director of Matchroom, Eddie Hearn said: “June 1st, 2019 was a day that will be forever etched in boxing history. Andy Ruiz caused one of the great boxing upsets of all times as him and Anthony Joshua engaged in an epic battle in front of a sold-out MSG. The noise about the rematch has been deafening — will it happen? where will it be? who will win? Step up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who will now host one of the biggest and most iconic boxing events of our generation.”

“A 16,000 purposely built stadium that will stand in Diriyah, ‘Clash on the Dunes’ will follow in the footsteps of the Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila — the whole World will stop to watch this fight and fight fans across America will get the chance to watch it all unfold live on Sky Sports and DAZN.”


Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

Updated 06 April 2020

Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

  • Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme
  • The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool CEO Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route

LONDON: Liverpool were forced to apologize as the Premier League club ditched their controversial plan to furlough non-playing staff during the coronavirus on Monday, while FIFA urged players and clubs to reach agreement over wage reductions.
Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s US-based owners, wanted to put around 200 staff on enforced leave during the pandemic while the government paid 80 percent of their wages.
Fellow top-flight teams Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have already furloughed staff, but it was table-toppers Liverpool — with pre-tax profits of £42 million ($51.7 million) for the 2018-19 season — who came in for the most criticism, in part due to their reputation as a club with a strong bond to the working-class community on Merseyside.
The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route.
“We have consulted with a range of key stakeholders as part of a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned,” Moore said.
“We have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher tweeted: “Well done @PeterMooreLFC @LFC a big mistake initially & thankfully now it’s been put right.”
With the Premier League postponed indefinitely because of the virus, Manchester City, bankrolled by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, said they would not be using the government’s job retention scheme, with Manchester United set to follow their example.
Liverpool’s U-turn came as England’s top-flight teams, among the richest in the world, were under increasing scrutiny, with government ministers warning bosses and players they should “think carefully” over their next moves.
The highest-paid Premier League players such as Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne command eye-watering salaries, reportedly nearing £20 million ($25 million) a year.
FIFA on Monday urged clubs and players to reach agreement on taking wage reductions in order to protect clubs who are suffering financial damage, sources at world football’s governing body said.
It also recommended that players’ contracts be extended until the end of the interrupted football seasons and that the transfer window should not open until that time.
The call from FIFA comes as Premier League clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts.
The English top flight is lagging behind other European leagues.
In Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid players have agreed to pay cuts of 70 percent.
Many politicians have urged action from the Premier League and in a poll conducted by British polling company YouGov last week, 92 percent of respondents said they backed a pay cut.
But some leading players resent the political pressure. Former England captain Wayne Rooney has criticized the government and the Premier League for placing footballers in a “no-win” situation.
“In my opinion it is now a no-win situation,” Rooney said in a newspaper column. “Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets.”
In the latest sign of the financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus, England manager Gareth Southgate and the Football Association’s top earners have agreed to take wage cuts of up to 30 percent.