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Saudi Arabia proposing ‘very special’ stadium for Joshua v Fury

Saudi Arabia is planning to develop a stadium that will “shock the world” for its proposed staging of the undisputed heavyweight championship boxing fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, according to Matchroom Boxing chairman Eddie Hearn.

While details of the hugely anticipated event have yet to be officially confirmed, Hearn, speaking in his capacity as Joshua’s promoter, said a date of August 14 has been agreed, adding that the fight is a “done deal”.

Hearn (right of picture, with father Eddie) said that Eid celebrations in Saudi Arabia is the only reason that Fury’s team are yet to receive full financial documents from the proposed hosts. Capital city Riyadh, or Jeddah, is being lined up for the fight, with Hearn stating Saudi Arabia is looking to build on its staging of Joshua’s bout against Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7, 2019.

The rematch following Joshua’s shock defeat to Ruiz in New York in June 2019 ended in victory for the Brit via unanimous decision. The fight was staged at the purpose-built Diriyah Arena. Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s plan for Joshua v Fury, Hearn told Sky Sports: “They want to build a new stadium. They have indoors options.

“In August at 11pm it will be about 23 degrees. They want to create something very, very special. Last time they built a stadium for the Andy Ruiz Jr fight in just seven weeks and it held 18,000. This will be a similar set-up. They have the opportunity to hold it indoors but they want to create something that will shock the world. They want to build a stadium just for this fight.”

Saudi organisers have reportedly put forward $150m (£106.6m/€123.7m) for the hosting rights to the fight, which will see Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO belts, along with Fury’s WBC title, placed at stake to determine the heavyweight division’s undoubted champion.

Hearn has also said that Saudi Arabia is planning to admit overseas fans for the event. He told BBC Sport: “The Saudi plan is to allow international travellers. Pandemic permitting, I’d like to think by August you’d have the ability to travel to Saudi for this fight.

“They may have precautions in place, whether that’s vaccine related or testing – I’m sure all countries will adopt different policies worldwide. But their aim is to attract overseas travellers.”

Image: Matchroom Boxing