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Inside the making of Ruiz vs Joshua 2 and how 2019’s biggest fight landed in…

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Inside the making of Ruiz vs Joshua 2 and how 2019's biggest fight landed in...

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Surrounded by the richness of life in Monaco, an hour from the tuxedo at the famous Monte Carlo Casino, Anthony JoshuaLongtime promoter Eddie Hearn shares that in just a few days he will have eagle-sized butterflies flying in his stomach.

"I'm very nervous but very excited," he tells Express Sport. "But that's always the sign of a massive fight. The fan messages I get saying 'I'm going to fuck myself'".

Hearn, of course, is talking about Joshua's gigantic world title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr, who just six months ago dropped his boxing jaw with a relentless seven-round win over AJ at Madison Square Garden in New York. York.

Moments after referee Mike Griffin denied the fight, Hearn entered the ring to warn everyone that the contractually binding rematch clause would be activated immediately – and the sequence would take place in the UK.

So how are we here? In the week of the fight, just days away from Joshua's chance for redemption and his attempt to regain WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles, the media and the world's riches gathered in the small town of Diriyah, in northwest Riyadh, to report the spectacular display.

ONLY IN: Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 UK start date and time: When does the boxing match in Saudi Arabia begin?

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 took place in Saudi Arabia (Image: GETTY)

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 happened in Saudi Arabia

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 took place in Saudi Arabia (Image: GETTY)

Hearn, sitting comfortably in an open-air restaurant at the Monte Carlo Bay hotel, where a few meters from the round he will be promoting Radzhab Butaev's WBA "Regular" world title clash with Alexander Besputin, begins to ponder why things have worked in recent months.

He adds: "It's amazing how life works because we were getting paralyzed by Deontay wilder, Tyson's Fury and PBC (Al Haymon's promotional company), and although I had a clear plan for AJ, we reached a time when we were frustrated and he was receiving unwarranted heat.

"We have a lot of bat to fight with Ruiz and we would have a bat to fight with Kubrat Pulev later, the mandatory IBF, while Fury and Wilder were fighting again.

"Now, we are just a few days from the biggest fight of the year, the biggest heavyweight fight of the decade, the biggest payday of AJ's career, even though he has just lost, and the opportunity to become twice World heavyweight champion.

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"He will be the biggest global star in the sport. The script is everywhere, but he is a victory from being in such a golden position again."

Express Sport spoke with Hearn in July, where he said Cardiff Principality Stadium, which Joshua had sold out twice before, and Madison Square Garden, were the main candidates to host the rematch.

But just as Ruiz showed the power of social media in April, when he begged a direct message to Hearn about Joshua's Instagram, following the news that original opponent Jarrell Miller was out of contention due to three failed drug trials. , Saudi Prince Khalid's spokesman did exactly the same.

"We decided it would be in Cardiff," says Hearn. "We had a solid contract and we were prepared to force it, but Ruiz had his doubts and the money for a fight in the UK was not there to satisfy him.

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 happened in Saudi Arabia

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 took place in Saudi Arabia (Image: GETTY)

"And then I get an Instagram DM from someone saying" could you talk to Prince Khalid about staging Joshua's fight in Saudi Arabia … … bearing in mind that we had these approaches before, for fights like Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook, Joshua vs. Wilder, (Oleksandr) Usyk fight.

"We signed contracts (in the past), we signed custody agreements, we waited for money and it didn't come and in the end I ignored the guy. Then I got an email saying 'I sent you an Instagram message , you could talk to Khalid & # 39 ;.

"So I picked up the number, called him, knowing I had decided on Cardiff, and I was pretty abrupt with him, I wasn't in the mood and we didn't have time to play. So I said" we've been here before, I don't want to be rude but there is no time to waste "."

But the Saudis, who hosted Amir Khan's summer showdown with Billy Dib and the World Boxing Super Series final between Callum Smith and George Groves over a year ago, did not move.

He will be the biggest global star of the sport. He is a victory from being in such a golden position.

Eddie Hearn

Hearn explains, "He asked" how much money "and I said" the money to organize a fight in the Middle East is X "and he told me" we would like to do so. 39; I sent a contract and said "may" there have been changes, it's the contract. "He came back with about 20 changes.

"I called him and said, 'I don't want to fight with you, let's talk next year or later this year about another fight', but they were convinced they wanted the fight. So they signed the contract . "

But there was more concern when the £ 31 million site fee deposit did not fall into Hearn's escrow account. He says, "So we went into a period when a deposit had to come in, he said he sent the money, but I checked our bank and the money never came. Now I'm calling to say 'I don't have time to waste you didn't send it! Let's go to Cardiff!

But then the penny, someone would assume millions of them, fell.

“I hung up the phone and 10 minutes later it's the bank on the phone … & # 39; the money is coming in. Immediately I'm on the phone with the prince again & # 39; hello mate! How are you? We have the money! Hearn laughed.

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 happened in Saudi Arabia

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 took place in Saudi Arabia (Image: GETTY)

“I asked Ruiz if he preferred the United Kingdom or Saudi Arabia, and he said he was Saudi and that allowed me to play with some money and make sure everyone was happy.

“They told me they want Arabia to be the home of boxing, the home of all mega-fights, and with their money, they can do it. So they started telling me about locations and plans, showed me presentations … everything has been unbelievable so far. This is the opportunity to show off. "

Joshua admittedly felt the pressure of having to overcome Deontay Wilder, who destroyed Dominic Breazeale in a round two weeks before AJ's fight with Ruiz that infamous June night.

But Hearn now insists that things are different, saying Joshua knows the danger Ruiz poses, while the thought of fighting Wilder or Fury will be completely debatable if he can't dethrone his Mexican rival.

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 happened in Saudi Arabia

Inside Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 production and how the biggest fight of 2019 took place in Saudi Arabia (Image: GETTY)

He explained: “He doesn't care about Wilder or Fury now, while he definitely cares before the first fight. He wanted to put the end of the stands. But this is the first time since Joseph Parker's fight that he's not thinking of anyone else.

“Since Parker has been“ box Wilder, box Wilder ” and when he knocked out Breazeale, he felt he needed to produce a great ending in America. AJ sat with Stephen A Smith and Max Kellerman on ESPN before the fight with Ruiz and the whole segment was about Wilder.

“No one took Ruiz seriously, not the media, not the fans, and AJ was thinking of knocking out the Wilder fight. But not now."

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