Boxing is considered the “theater of unexpected” and today, a rumored venue, which most considered a long shot because of its location, the Middle East, became the official site of the biggest heavyweight title rematch in recent years.
Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Boxing tweeted out that the highly anticipated rematch between WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1) and Anthony Joshua (22-1) would be held at an outdoor venue in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Just like most fans and media, the site struck me as a little shocking given that a fight of that magnitude will be held in a location that is not known for having professional boxing events of this caliber.
Just like any fan or media person would do, I punched in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Wikipedia to get a little background on the host of such a huge event.
While scrolling through that page, I found it interesting that in 2018, the previous CEO of Forbes Travel Guide Jerry Inzerillo was put in place to lead the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) in an effort to make it “the Beverly Hills of Riyadh.”
With his serious connections within the political and entertainment world, it’s no wonder that Diriyah was in the best position to make a bid for the fight.
With the date being set for December 7th, it sparked some thoughts in my head as I have spent some time in the Middle East while deployed as an active duty Marine.
Here are some things to look out for given that the fight will be held in Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, it gets cold once the sun goes down for the day. Just like most desert regions, the average high for that time of the year is right around 70 degrees but the low can plummet all the way down to anywhere between 45-50 degrees and even lower as it has in previous years. That can have physical effects like cramping and not being able to warm up appropriately for the fight, which is a disadvantage for both men.
The month that has shown the most precipitation out of the year has been in December. There is an average of about a half of an inch of rain during this time of the year. If it’s cold and it rains, it can make for a very miserable evening.
Sandstorms are a real thing and when you have seen them in movies like the Scorpion King or the Mummy, those are not exaggerations of what they can look like in real life. I’ve experienced some that were a couple of miles high and a few miles long. When this hits you, the visibility is so bad that you won’t be able to see someone that is 5 feet in front of you. If this were to happen on fight night, if the outdoor arena looks like we picture it in our head, there can be a 30-60 minute delay just for that alone.
Being in the Middle East, food is sourced, prepared and cooked differently in some instances, which can be a disadvantage for a fighter not acclimated to that region, coming into the fight. I would hope that maybe Andy Ruiz in particular packs some familiar foods that can be cooked for him out there by his team so that there aren’t any health issues leading up to fight night.
It will be a very interesting night in December for the rematch that the whole boxing world will be eagerly anticipating. Let’s hope that none of these things mentioned become a factor in what is going to be the most watched heavyweight title fight in recent years.