Joshua’s mega-fight may return to Saudi Arabia
The fortunes, which Saudi Arabia is willing to invest in ‘sports-washing’ their image will price any fight between Anthony Joshua and the winner of next month’s rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder out of Britain.
Not even another Joshua bonanza night at Wembley Stadium can get close to the gigantic offer-in-waiting for AJ to return to Riyadh in a fight for the undisputed world heavyweight championship against either the Gypsy King or the Bronze Bomber.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn spells it out in numbers which are both simple and mind-boggling: ‘How can I go up to these guys and ask them to fight for £40million each in the UK when they can get £150m each in Saudi Arabia?’
Not even the Twitter army of fans begging to see that fight in this country have an answer for that.
For Joshua, who has already brought home from the Arabian desert $85m for regaining his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles in December’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr, it has to be a no-brainer.
Joshua wants to fight in front of his home fans and will do so this summer in one of his two mandatory defences, against either Kubrat Pulev or Alexsandr Usyk. Probably at Tottenham’s new stadium since Wembley will be otherwise engaged with the Euro 2020 Finals.
But come the mega-fight against whoever holds the WBC title – current champion Wilder or challenger Fury – money will not be just talking but screaming. Whenever that may be.
Whichever of Fury and Wilder loses in Las Vegas on February 22 has a contractual right to demand a third fight.
If that clause is activated it would push back until this winter at the earliest an attempt to find the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.
Saudi Arabia can wait. That mega-fight is part of the controversial Crown Prince’s long-term plan to open up his country to western tourism and convince the world that it is gradually improving its human rights record.
No expense spared, especially when it comes to sport. Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s latest move towards the 21st century is a £350m bid for Newcastle United, complete with the return to Tyneside of Rafa Benitez as manager.
Joshua’s revenge over Ruiz drew only the token travelling support of a few hundred from the UK. If drinking was even partially legalised thousands would be expected to break through the Saudi tourism barrier.
• Culled from dailymail.co.uk