Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the GSA:
“I want to start with welcoming everyone to Saudi Arabia, especially to Diriyah. I Would like to welcome the fighters here and I wish them luck. Firstly, boxing is one of our growing sports in the Kingdom, we have had events in the past and international events which started with Formula E, WWE, the Italian Super-Cup final and other events in the Kingdom. They all fall under the 2030 vision guided by the custodian of the two holy mosques, his majesty King Salman and the Crown Prince Hamed Salman. The direction of Saudi Arabia is to enhance sport because sport is good for everyone. We are not just focusing on one sport we are focusing on many sports and maybe that Is reflected on the number of events that we have hosted.
“We are very lucky that we have managed to host this fight in Saudi and in Diriyah, which is a very special place for all of us. We also want to reflect to the world what Saudi Arabia is and hopefully everyone can come and enjoy this fight in one of our special places in the Kingdom. I think everyone is already excited outside and inside the Kingdom. We are really looking forward to welcoming everyone, anyone who wants to come to Saudi and watch this fight is more than welcome to come. Sports reaches everyone, and I think it is fundamental in the ‘2030 Vision’ and one of the key visions in the 2030 vision is to promote and grow sports within the Kingdom. We are not just hosting fights, we are increasing the interest in the Kingdom. We have seen the interest in sports have grown drastically in the last few years and we want to give this opportunity to Saudi citizens who can come and watch this fight.
“This is the start of something exciting and everybody has been excited in the Kingdom since this fight was first announced. Everybody is looking forward to getting tickets and I think it will boost the interest in boxing in general. Lots of gyms and venues are opening up. Boxing is an old sport but is relatively new for Saudi Arabia. That is something that we would like to enhance from these events, to open up the interest in boxing in the Kingdom but also to have a long lasting plan to really encourage the youth in getting into boxing.
“I think that everyone who is coming to watch this fight is going to experience something that they haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world, that is our aim. In October we will announce all the details and how people can purchase tickets. We will have an easy system that anyone can apply to and anyone can apply for a VISA and come to Saudi and watch this fight. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone.”
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director, Matchroom Boxing:
“Thanks Ravi and thank you to the whole panel and of course everybody who made this event possible. The GSA, Prince Abdulaziz thank you, Skills Challenge Entertainment, Omar and the team and an huge thank you to Prince Khalid who plagued me and didn’t let this go to bring this fight here, we were so close and looking at almost a dozen other venues that were knocking at our door for this World Heavyweight Championship, the biggest fight in boxing today. Prince Khalid saw the vision, the love and passion for the sport and would not stop calling me. He would not stop trying to bring this event to Saudi Arabia.
“I have to tell you, sitting here now and having just watched that incredible show and having been a fight fan for 30 years, I felt a bit emotional. This is such a monumental occasion for our sport which is sometimes very narrow minded – there’s Las Vegas, there’s New York, there’s London – no. There is a whole world out there and now there is Saudi Arabia for boxing. This is such a monumental opportunity for our sport and you’re not just bringing a fight to the Kingdom, you are bringing the biggest fight in world boxing, the biggest prize in boxing – the World Heavyweight Championship.
“This is not a one off fight, this is a rematch for one of the fights of the year. Back on June 1 at the sold out Madison Square Garden we witnessed one of the greatest Heavyweight upsets of all time. Andy Ruiz may not feel it was an upset but it did go down in history that way, it was an incredible fight with both men on the canvas as Andy Ruiz beat Anthony Joshua to become the Unified World Heavyweight Champion.
“On December 7 in Diriyah we do it all again, for your entertainment in a purpose built, open air arena with 16,000 people. We love what you are doing here for sport and we love Formula E, we love the European Tour and I think that WWE is great, but there is nothing like the sport of boxing. You will witness an event that will go down in history – some people will be looking from the outside in and say this is a strange destination but they also said that with ‘The Rumble in The Jungle’ and ‘The Thriller in Manilla’, and this as an event will go down in history just like those iconic moments in our sport.
“I want to thank everybody for bringing this fight here and I want to thank the fighters – for those who know or those who are new to the sport of boxing know that these guys who are the gladiators. They are the guys who get in the ring and fight for these belts, for their legacy and for your entertainment. These are the guys that deserve so much respect. This is not just about bringing a major fight to Saudi Arabia, this is about the potential to grow the sport of boxing here. One of the reasons that we’re even here is because of Prince Khalid’s vision to grow the sport here. We’re already in the talks about academy’s and about grass-roots boxing, this is how you grow the sport of boxing. Trust me, the people of Saudi Arabia once they see this event and touch and taste the sport of boxing, they will be addicted. This will be a monumental occasion for this sport. The world will stand still to witness history in Saudi Arabia. Ticket details will be released in due course.”
Andy Ruiz Sr:
“First of all I want to thank all the people from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I felt so proud of my son when he won the fight – it was a dream that we had when he was six years old. I believe that dreams come true, I have been working for this and thinking who was going to be champion of the world. I had a dream I was going to have my Mexican Rocky and then it came true so I feel so happy and thankful to Eddie Hearn for this opportunity.”
Robert McCracken MBE, trainer of Anthony Joshua:
“This is Heavyweight boxing, we’ve seen it time and time again. Andy is a very good fighter and is the World Heavyweight Champion and Anthony is now challenging – it’s turned completely on its head. AJ is driven and determined to get those titles back so it’s going to be exciting and interesting to see. It is going to be challenging for both fighters but I think it will be a challenge they will look forward to, certainly Anthony is looking forward to it, he’s excited already. It’s December so it will be a little bit cooler which should suit both fighters and it will certainly suit Anthony and he will be prepared. He will be in tip-top shape and he knows that Ruiz is a tremendous champion, but he is a tremendous challenger and he’s aiming to win those belts back on December 7.”
Manny Robles, trainer of Andy Ruiz Jr:
“First of all thank you to everyone, the media and the country of Saudi Arabia for having us here in the city of Diriyah. This is an incredible country with very nice people and thank you for the warm welcome. It’s time to turn the page, dreams do come true but now it is a reality and it’s time to go to work. I can promise everybody and the fans here and across the world that Andy will be ready – he will be ready for the challenge. We respect Anthony Joshua and his team, he is a great fighter and we know that he is going to bring it, so that is the reason why we need to be at our best come December 7. It’s part two, it’s a continuation of part one. Both fighters know each other and know what to expect from one another so there will be changes. We will have more time to prepare this time around and we have begun our preparation – there will be some changes and you can expect a better, faster, leaner and stronger Andy Ruiz than we saw the first time around.”
Anthony Joshua OBE:
“Thank you all for your hospitality, to the people and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I never thought that I would be fighting outside of London or America so it is a blessing and I am humbled to be here. With the fight, I feel that I was up against a good challenger at the time and I was only champion until June 1, as Andy is champion now, that will last until December 7 when he has to put his titles in the air and two warriors will go to war and the best man will walk out victorious. I am really looking forward to the challenge and I am glad the people here are supporting boxing. Some may support me, others may support Andy, but at the end of the day we are going to have a really good night of boxing and that is what we are all here for.
“My parents and their heritage is from Nigeria and I was born in England. I started boxing when I moved to London and my cousin was training. I was only doing it as a mindset thing. I needed to change my mindset when I was younger, I was getting in some sorts of trouble and I wasn’t really focused on my education as such. Being around the older generation and the wise generation they gave me advice and a lot of game that I could use on my day to day life and I started thinking as an individual. In three years from being a novice in the gym I was competing at the Olympics and by that point I had been to so many countries around the world representing Great Britain.
“I turned professional and based myself in England where I won the gold medal and I have been competing out of Great Britain ever since until I went to America when I lost my titles. I should say ‘the’ titles because I believe that being a champion is more than just having belts which I have always said, being a champion has responsibilities and it’s about having a championship mindset. The belts will go in the air and we will fight for them again and this time around it’s not London, it’s not America, it is Saudi Arabia.”
Andy Ruiz Jr:
“I’m really happy to be here and I thank everybody. On June 1 I made my dreams come true with a lot of sacrifice, blood and tears. I just believed in myself and I think I am here for a purpose and I just want to tell everybody that if they have a dream they’ve got to follow through with it and everything is possible.
On December 7 I know that Anthony Joshua is going to come hard, he’s going to come strong and will be preparing really well but so am I. I’m really hungery, a lot of people have been saying that I’m not training or taking it seriously but come on I have all these belts and there is responsibilities to this. I am going to try my best and I’m going to keep these belts and take them back to Mexico. On December 7 I am going to make history again and win here in the same fashion and the same way that I won on June 1 and I am going to prove everybody wrong.
“The hunger still remains, I don’t want 15 minutes of fame I want this to last for a generation. I want to be a champion for many years and I have a good fighter next to me who is going to try and take these belts but god is with me and we’re going to be training really hard for December 7.
“I expect a tougher test this time round, he is more hungry and wants his belts back but that is what is motivating me and making me more hungry. I want to train harder because I know he is, I only had a month, month and a half, to train for the first fight but this time we have a whole camp so it benefits me. It is going to be an exciting fight, a hell of a fight – two big Heavyweights punching each other in the face – tune in December 7, it’s going to be a hell of a fight.”