Heavy rain comes down on undercard
The rain is coming down in sheets outside (and inside) the open-air arena built for tonight’s event. Meanwhile, Croatian prospect Filip Hrgovic has stopped Eric Molina in the third round of their scheduled 12-round scrap, spared from the deluge by the small canopy hanging over the ring.
The BBC’s Dan Roan reports that organizers have said there’s no prospect of delay or cancellation despite the watery conditions, but the problems are mounting as the card moves forward. A few of the TV broadcasters on press row have enlisted assistants to shield them from the rain by holding umbrellas over their set-ups, but the umbrellas are obstructing the sightlines of several spectators in the high-rent district, who are understandably kicking off over it.
Tonight’s running order
Here’s a look at tonight’s bout sheet. Also, a reminder that Saudi Arabia has world’s third lowest rainfall with 59mm annually, according to the Press Association’s Mark Staniforth. Ruiz and Joshua are expected to make their entrances at a quarter to midnight local time or a little over three hours from now.
First bell (3.30pm – all times GMT)
- Majid Al Naqbi (UAE) v Ilia Beruashvili (Georgia), four rounds, lightweights
World feed on air (4pm)
- Zuhayr Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia) v Omar Dusary (Kuwait), eight rounds, lightweights
Live on Sky Sports Box Office and DAZN (5pm)
- Mahammadrasul Majidov (Azerbaijan) v Tom Little (England), eight rounds, heavyweights
- Filip Hrgovic (Croatia) v Eric Molina (USA), 12 rounds, heavyweights
- Dillian Whyte (England) v Mariusz Wach (Poland), 10 rounds, heavyweights
- Alexander Povetkin (Russia) v Michael Hunter (USA), 12 rounds, WBA heavyweight eliminator
Main event (8.45pm)
- Andy Ruiz Jr (Mexico) v Anthony Joshua (England), rematch, 12 rounds, for Ruiz’s IBF/WBO/WBA heavyweight title
- Hopey Price (England) v Swedi Mohamed (Tanzania), four rounds, junior featherweights
- Diego Pacheco (USA) v Selemani Saidi (Tanzania), six rounds, super middleweights
Hello and welcome to Riyadh for tonight’s hotly anticipated rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua. We’re ringside at the purpose-built Diriyah Arena on the north-west outskirts of the Saudi capital for what’s surely the most controversial world heavyweight title fight in more than 40 years. Six months after Ruiz turned boxing’s bellwether division on its ear with a seismic upset of the then-unbeaten Joshua at Madison Square Garden, they’re running it back in the middle of the desert – where Joshua will attempt to become only fourth deposed heavyweight champion to win an immediate rematch after Floyd Patterson (against Ingemar Johansson in 1960), Muhammad Ali (against Leon Spinks in 1978) and Lennox Lewis (against Hasim Rahman in 2001).
The story of the moment is the oppressive rainfall positively lashing down on the 15,000-seat arena in the middle of the Arabian Desert because of course. Pockets of spectators wearing plastic ponchos are scattered through the mostly empty stands as with many more taking shelter in the tight concourses as England’s Tom Little is blasted out in two at the hands of Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov in the night’s first pay-per-view fight. Peak Britain, really.
We’ll be back with tonight’s schedule, and perhaps a wee look at the forecast, after seeking cover ourselves.