‘Total disregard for the fans’: Anger as Saudi Arabia nears ‘massive economic deal’ to host Fury vs. Joshua boxing blockbuster
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.
Bob Arum has now confirmed Saudi Arabia is the agreed host for Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury. He added that it’s likely to be in Jeddah (Eddie Hearn said 20,000 fans at an indoor arena). Saudis have choice of three dates - July 24th, July 31st, Aug 7th. [@BoxingScene]— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) April 20, 2021
So will the "ESL is greedy" folk, please step forward and explain how this is different?— Asian Boxing (@asianboxing) April 20, 2021
“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."
How half assed. Why didn't they wait until they could have full crowds back?? Already down a few notches from being the biggest fight of all time.— Andrew Pradameki (@AndrewPradameki) April 20, 2021
The atmosphere is gonna be so bad.. I don’t think people realise. It won’t feel like one of the biggest fights of all time— #ExposeCNN (@_CNNisFakeNews) April 20, 2021
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.
There wouldn't be enough fans at Wembley to be competitive with the site fee on offer by the Saudi's. It's not a case of 20,000 fans at Wembly vs 20,000 at Saudi. It's 20,000 at Wembley vs 20,000 at Saudi with tens of millions thrown in too.— Alf-2408 (@Alf_2408) April 20, 2021
It’s the biggest fights of there careers ofc there gonna get the most money possible they do in every fight they have it’s a dangerous sport and they should get the most money they can why should they take a pay cut when there’s no fans in the uk anyway just silly— Itheworst (@itheworst) April 20, 2021
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.
Greed has dictated this ....mega millionaires having a fight for more mega millions 🤷♂️... it cld hve been in Uk but they may only have got 50 million each instead of 100 mill each ( hypothetical ) the atmosphere in an empty Wembley wd be better than Saudi Arabia 🙈— robertk (@robertk82913999) April 20, 2021
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. Theres still no guarentee a fight can be held at wembley either, no revenue no fight simple as— Jonny Young (@jonny8686) April 20, 2021
"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.
Fights happen all over the world, vegas, new york, wembley. This has absolutely no correlation at all to the esl— Jonny Young (@jonny8686) April 20, 2021
Yes it does. 1st time 2 Brits fight for the undisputed heavyweight title and they decided to fight in the desert when Wembley stadium was offered. Greed pure and simple...— kevin lee armstrong (@kevvie70) April 20, 2021
"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