Boxing

Saudi Arabia agree to pay ‘eye-watering’ fee to host Usyk vs Joshua rematch

Saudi Arabia will fork out around $80m (£65.4m) to stage Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

The figure surpasses the $60m the Middle East country paid to host Joshua’s December 2019 clash with Andy Ruiz Jnr. Joshua and Usyk will split a large portion – the exact amount unknown – of the £65.4m figure between them 50-50. There are other costs to come out of that though which include the undercard.

It means Joshua could earn less for this fight than he did for Ruiz Jnr, because he had a much larger share of the purse for that clash. The eye-watering sum yet again shows the desire of Saudi Arabia to bring big-time boxing to the region. The deal has been backed by the Ministry of Sport as well as Skills Challenge Entertainment, a sports and entertainment agency based in Riyadh.

Their main aim remains to bring the undisputed heavyweight clash to the Middle East. Usyk will put the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles he took from Joshua last September on the line. The bout will be staged on August 20 in Jeddah, with the Superdome in the coastal city favourite to be the venue.

But then all eyes will be on whether or not they can lure Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, out of his retirement for a clash against the winner for all four belts.

Fury and Joshua were close facing each other in Saudi Arabia just 12 months ago until the Gypsy King was forced into a third fight with Deontay Wilder after an arbitration case. Saudi officials remain keen to bring the showpiece fight to their country, which would be the first crowning of an undisputed champion at heavyweight since Lennox Lewis held the crown in 1999.

Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum feels the fight should take place in the UK but Saudi will make offers that will be tough to refuse.

Joshua and Usyk will come under criticism for going to the controversial Middle East country, owing to serious human rights issues there. But Saudi is now in full control of the fight having secured the deal and it has been claimed they will control the broadcast rights for the clash.

That could mean that DAZN – who Joshua signed a £100m deal with last week – may have to bid to show the fight. They would have to be favourites considering Eddie Hearn, the Matchroom boss behind bringing the fight to Saudi, has an exclusive deal with the streaming channel as well as Joshua. But it could open it up to channels who can offer Saudi Arabia more exposure to the fight.

Usyk and Joshua will face off at a press conference in Jeddah on Tuesday. It will be the first time they have met since the Ukrainian outpointed the Brit at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last year.

  • Anthony Joshua
  • Eddie Hearn
  • Boxing

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