The Friday Five: August 9th, 2019

1. Joshua vs. Ruiz II Set for Saudi Arabia

Credit: Twitter/@DAZN_USA

It won’t be Tijuana, or Cardiff, or even New York City, that plays host to Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz’s world heavyweight title rematch this December.

Initially reported by the Telegraph, Joshua and Ruiz will face off in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 7th, six months after Ruiz’s shocking stoppage win inside Madison Square Garden.

An announcement is set for Friday for the Fight, which has nearly $100 million from the Saudi Arabian sports authority behind it.

The Saudi bid bested offers by Dubai government officials, as well as Hearn eyeing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

This will be the third major fight in the country in the past year, as Callum Smith and George Groves faced off in the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight tournament final between Callum Smith and George Groves took place in Jeddah, as was Amir Khan’s last contest against Billy Dib in July.

2. Joshua Had Wilder On Mind When Facing Ruiz

Credit: Twitter/@DAZN_USA

Anthony Joshua says he took his eye off the ball a bit when he was in the ring with Andy Ruiz Jr. back on June 1, admitting he was already looking forward to facing Deontay Wilder.

On that night in New York’s Madison Square Garden, however, Ruiz would flip the heavyweight division on its head by dropping Joshua four times. The referee waved off the bout after the second knockdown of the seventh round, giving Joshua his first defeat and making Ruiz the new WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO unified heavyweight champion.

While he was knocked around by Ruiz in the heavyweight title fight, he still wasn’t happy with the referee waving off the fight, claiming he was waiting for an issue with his mouthpiece to be fixed.

“I didn’t really know where I was other than in the corner but I had my arms back over the ropes waiting for the gum shield to replaced,” Joshua told JD Sports. “The referee should not have expected me to fight on without it. I just saw the gumshield lying on the floor.”

Joshua did admit to not being focused — looking ahead towards a possible undisputed title fight with Wilder down the line. But with the heavyweight world titles no longer in his possession, Wilder booked with Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury and questions about his star power and ability, Joshua will come into their rematch with a rediscovered focus.

“My mind was not fully on Ruiz but partly on the fight for the undisputed title against Deontay Wilder which was due next. But now we have this massive rematch and I will train differently for Andy. This time I will be ready to unleash the beast,” Joshua said. “This defeat has told me I must make my own decisions about everything inside the ring and around me outside. I was down to 40 percent of myself after that early punch behind the ear and had never felt like that before in my life. I was deep into an uphill struggle but I would still rather have lost flat on my back than like that.”

3. Canelo Waiting on Kovalev-Yarde

Credit: Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Despite all the drama and circumstances surrounding his next fight and promoters, Canelo Alvarez will not jump into a next opponent just yet.

Multiple sources tell Boxing Scene that Alvarez will wait to see the result of the August 24 Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde WBO light heavyweight title bout before determining who he will face next. If Kovalev is successful, it’s expected Alvarez will still make his planned jump of two weight classes to challenge him.

Despite a postponement of Kovalev vs. Yarde already, and an inevitable order by the IBF for Alvarez to face a mandatory challenger, Alvarez and his team attempted to give Yarde step-aside money for a Canelo-Kovalev bout to take place.

Kovalev eventually decided he couldn’t change an opponent on less than two months’ notice — especially if it’d cost him a seven-digit payday — and Kovalev-Yarde was officially announced on July 12.

Meanwhile, Alvarez — the WBA (super) middleweight and (regular) super middleweight champion, as well as WBC Franchise champion — announced he would break his own tradition and not fight this coming Mexican Independence Day weekend.

4. Horn’s Trainer: We Can Beat Manny Again

The last man to beat Manny Pacquiao, former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn, wants to run it back against the Filipino Senator.

Horn’s trainer, Glenn Rushton was impressed by Pacquiao’s recent performance but feels his fighter who beat him in a controversial decision in 2017, can do it again.

“I think he is, I think the fight galvanized him a bit,” Rushton said to Fighthype.com.

“If ever Manny Pacquiao wants that fight with Jeff Horn, I think it’s unfinished business, then we’re up for it, we would certainly do it again,” Rushton said.

“I believe the outcome will be the same, but I think it’ll be an even better fight than the first one.”

5. Harrison: PFL Has Place For Cyborg… 2nd Place

Credit: PFL/Ryan Loco

Before Cris Cyborg can even officially leave the UFC, PFL star Kayla Harrison has started a flame war with the former champion, saying she’d beat Cyborg if she dares to step into her territory.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Judo, visited the TMZ offices this week ahead of the PFL’s sixth regular-season event at the Ocean Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and is excited at the possibility of the former Strikeforce and Invicta star joining the venture-backed brand.

“Hi, Cris. I heard you lost your job, but if you’re interested, the PFL has a very special place for you and it’s second,” Harrison said on the gossip website on Monday.

“I think she would fit right in at the PFL,” Harrison continued. “First of all, it’s 155 pounds, so she wouldn’t be dying to make the weight like she does at 145. And I think that there’s not really anybody else out there that’s going to (challenge her). I’m going to beat Cris Cyborg if she comes to the PFL, and I don’t think any other organization can offer her that.

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