Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Clash on the Dunes: Andy Ruiz Jr hails 'amazing' Diriyah Arena ahead of rematch with Anthony Joshua

First aerial shots of the purpose-build venue have been released, six days before the world heavyweight title showdown

A shot of the purpose-built Diriyah Arena for the Clash on the Dunes boxing event. Courtesy Diriyah Arena
A shot of the purpose-built Diriyah Arena for the Clash on the Dunes boxing event. Courtesy Diriyah Arena

Andy Ruiz Jr has expressed his admiration for the "amazing" Diriyah Arena as the first aerial shots of the 15,000-seater stadium were released ahead of his world heavyweight title fight with Anthony Joshua on Saturday.

Ruiz claimed the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles in stunning style on June 1 when he defied all expectations to stop the previously unbeaten Joshua with a seventh round stoppage in New York City.

Joshua, 30, activated the rematch clause in the first fight's contract and in August Saudi Arabia won the rights to host a rematch which promises to be one of the biggest sports events of 2019.

An aerial shot of the Diriyah Arena. Courtesy Diriyah Arena
An aerial shot of the Diriyah Arena. Courtesy Diriyah Arena

Work began on a purpose-built venue on October 7, with 175 staff members working onsite each day to complete the stadium in time for the event billed as 'Clash on the Dunes'.

As well as holding 15,000 spectators, the stadium will require more than 2,000 members to operate it on fight night and will house 300 members of the media in a nearby centre.

The arena has made up of 350,000 fixings and 295 tons of steel and will cover a 10,000sqm footprint, while 3,000sqm of scaffolding has been used to erect the venue. As it is an adjustable structure, approximately 95 per cent of the materials used to build the stadium are reuseable.

“It’s amazing man, it’s crazy how they built everything in a month and a half," Ruiz said. "It’s amazing to be fighting over here, it’s going to be really historic and I’m planning to make history over here. It’s a lot different. When I first got here none of this was here so it’s unbelievable.”

Boxing fans from around 65 countries are set to arrive in Saudi Arabia in the coming days to be ringside for fight night, and Joshua has said he is looking forward to being part of a watershed moment for both boxing and sport in the Middle East.

An aerial shot of the Diriyah Arena. Courtesy Diriyah Arena
An aerial shot of the Diriyah Arena. Courtesy Diriyah Arena

“It’s going to be an incredible night and I’m thrilled so many of my fans are going to be there, particularly from the UK," he said.

“It’ll definitely be a night people will tell their grandchildren they were at, one of those iconic evenings of boxing. Everyone from Saudi has been brilliant to work with."

Diriyah, the birth-place of the first kings of Saudi Arabia, is a UNESCO heritage site which has become a destination for world-class sports and entertainment events.

After the completion of the 'Clash of the Dunes', the venue will be transformed for the Diriyah Tennis Cup - an eight-player tournament featuring Stan Wawrinka, Daniil Medvedev and David Goffin held December 12-14.

Additionally, a Formula E track has been built at the venue, while there is also the Diriyah Oasis theme park and the Diriyah Concert arena on the grounds.

Updated: December 1, 2019 02:31 PM

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