icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

‘Total disregard for the fans’: Anger as Saudi Arabia nears ‘massive economic deal’ to host Fury vs. Joshua boxing blockbuster

‘Total disregard for the fans’: Anger as Saudi Arabia nears ‘massive economic deal’ to host Fury vs. Joshua boxing blockbuster
Boxing fans have responded with rage after top promoter Bob Arum revealed that Tyson Fury's fight with Anthony Joshua is almost certain to take place in Jeddah in July or August, giving most punters an arduous task to be there.

Top rank chairman Bob Arum, who is WBC champion Fury's co-promoter, has confirmed that the fight will take place on July 24, July 31 or August 7 as part of a deal that is being finalized with a likely location of a new indoor stadium in Jeddah.

Arum said that both sides are in agreement on the deal, which could see multiple champion Joshua return to the port city, where the temperatures are expected to be as high as 100 degrees, for the first time since he regained his titles by avenging his defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in a specially-built outdoor stadium in December 2019.

“It’s going to have to be within the next 10 days, maybe two weeks,” Arum told Boxing Scene, adding that his team was "marking up" contracts for a showdown that would need to be held indoors because of the sweltering summer heat in the region.

"It’s a massive economic deal. It’s a big step. We’re just doing the paperwork now with the Saudis."

The 89-year-old businessman revealed that the precise location for the bout would be identified by Saudi Arabia, which also hosted an all-British event in Jeddah in September 2018, when Callum Smith knocked out George Groves to win the WBA super middleweight title at the King Abdullah Sports City.

The fight will be shown on ESPN in the US and Sky Sports and BT Sport in the UK, although pay-per-view prices – which will inevitably be sky-high for one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights of all time – are yet to be agreed.

Revenue will be equally split between the first fighters for their first meeting, followed by a likely rematch in which the initial winner will receive 60 per cent.

Arum acknowledged that the UK is the "big market" for the unification blockbuster – and fans on social media seemed largely aghast at the scrap taking place far from the fighters' homeland.

"Absolute joke," seethed one, insisting that the fight should "only ever take place in the UK."

"Total disregard for the fans. They're British fighters, fighting in arguably the biggest ever unification boxing fight. This is no different to the [new] European Super League [in football] – rich men lining their pockets as much as they can."

20,000 fans are expected to be allowed to attend, although the cost and logistics for fans from Europe and the US to travel to Saudi Arabia left many frustrated.

"The atmosphere is going to be so bad," warned one. "I don’t think people realise. It won’t feel like one of the biggest fights of all time."

Others argued that the fight could have had a similar capacity wherever it was held because of pandemic-related restrictions.

"Fights happen all over the world – Las Vegas, New York, Wembley," said one. "Boxing has always been sold to the highest bidder. Without the money you have no 'Thriller in Manila', no 'Rumble in the Jungle', no Mexicans fighting for world titles in vegas."

Also on rt.com Fury says he will ‘move on’ from Joshua fight if venue is not agreed today – with ‘very rich’ outsiders rivaling Saudi Arabia bid