LONDON (Reuters) – World heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. has said he would like his title rematch with Anthony Joshua in December to be in New York instead of Saudi Arabia as announced.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, who said this week that both parties had signed up to the fight in Diriyah, near Riyadh, raised the threat of legal action if the Mexican-American refused the terms set out.
“I have not signed anything yet, we are negotiating everything,” Ruiz, who holds the IBF, WBO and WBA belts after stunning Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June, told ESPN Mexico.
“They want the fight to be there (in Saudi Arabia) but we have to see where we negotiate with my team.
“I would like it in New York again, where I beat him. I’m giving him a chance to try and beat me and if he wants the belts, he has to do it there.”
Hearn has dismissed talk of the fight not happening in the Middle East.
“The contract for the rematch was signed prior to the first fight,” Hearn told Sky Sports television. “They are both signed at the same time. There is no other contract.
“We have to let (Ruiz) know the time, date and venue which we have done. That’s it.
“His choice is to have a legal battle that could put him out of boxing for years, or to defend his belts for a lot of money against a guy he has already beaten. There isn’t any doubt he will take the fight.”
The choice of venue has been questioned in some quarters, with Saudi Arabia coming under heightened international criticism over its human rights record.
Hearn has said a title fight in Saudi could be a game changer for boxing.
“If Saudi Arabia are going to invest in these kind of fights, with the population that they have and the potential to grow the sport, you could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport,” he said on Monday.
Ruiz said his next opponent after Joshua, assuming he again beats the Briton, would likely be IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulav of Bulgaria before a possible unification fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
He expected Joshua, 29, to be more cautious in the rematch but with a similar outcome.
“I think he’s going to want to run a bit more, to move, but he’s too big, he’s got a lot of muscle and it’s going to be very difficult for him,” he said.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Lawrence)