Frank Warren has dismissed the ‘nonsense’ claims from rival Eddie Hearn that Andy Ruiz Jr could be stripped of his world heavyweight titles if he refuses to fight Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing announced last week the highly-anticipated rematch would take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, on December 7, confirming Ruiz and his team had ‘100% signed the contract for this fight’.
The rematch has been announced for December 7 in Diriyah
However, the 29-year-old WBO, WBA and IBF champion took to social media on Wednesday to say he has no intention of going to the Middle East and insist the fight will be staged in the United States again, following his stunning victory over Joshua in New York in June.
Ruiz’s announcement was met by a warning from Hearn, who said the Mexican-American fighter must honour his contract for the Joshua rematch or face being stripped of his titles and being caught up in a ‘legal battle that could put him out of boxing for years’.
But rival promoter Warren has rubbished Hearn’s claims and says Ruiz has every right to refuse to travel to Saudi Arabia, as the US government has advised American citizens not to travel there.
Andy Ruiz Jr conquered Anthony Joshua on June 1 at New York’s Madison Square Garden
Speaking on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Warren said: “Eddie has a point that he’s got a contract with him, but he’s got a real problem in saying he’ll be stripped of his titles.
“That’s not up to him at all, the titles belong to the governing bodies.
“The bottom line is, the US State Department advises its citizens not to go to Saudi Arabia for many reasons – the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, human rights issues, they’ve got a long paragraph on torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, women’s rights and it talks about the risk of going to airports where terrorists may attack – that’s all on their official website.
“His own government is telling him his life could be in danger.
MORE: Ruiz Jr will BEAT Joshua again wherever fight takes place, insists Warren
“All this nonsense about having his titles taken away from him, that is nonsense.
“You can be sued for breach of contract, and he may have a point there, but it’s not an easy case, that’s for sure.
“He has a very, very strong position for not travelling.”
When announcing the fight at a press conference in the Middle East, conspicuously without either fighter, Hearn said he hoped the rematch in Saudi Arabia – being dubbed the Clash on the Dunes – would help ‘change boxing forever’.
Eddie Hearn and event partner Omar Khalil, whose Skill Challenge Entertainment is helping stage the rematch in Diriyah
He cited Muhammad Ali’s fights against George Foreman – The Rumble in the Jungle – and Joe Frazier – The Thrilla in Manila – which helped grow the heavyweight division’s popularity across the world.
But Warren is not fooled.
Asked why Hearn has pushed to stage the fight in Saudi Arabia, he replied: “It’s because Eddie Hearn wants to broaden boxing’s appeal around the world…
“No, of course it’s the money!
“Come on now, we all know what it’s all about. It’s purely about money, no more than that.
“You won’t be taking your wives or girlfriends because we know what the situation is there, there’s no drinking there, which I accept because it’s their religious beliefs, but it’s hardly the usual environment for a boxing match, or indeed many sporting events.
“Whether it goes ahead or not, I have no idea.
“I found it very odd to announce a fight without either of the boxers there, and Ruiz’ has been quite vociferous about saying he has no intention of going there.”
Listen back to Frank Warren on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above