October 6, 2022

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Anthony Joshua stands behind cameras and microphones
Getty Images

This is the second time Anthony Joshua has fought in Saudi Arabia.

However, this appearance has garnered just as many negative comments, with critics questioning hosting a major global event in a country with such a questionable human rights record.

Those critics want athletes to highlight the sportswashing by the Saudi authorities, who also host Formula 1 races, fund the LIV golf competition and own Newcastle United.

Joshua earlier in the week just said: “I’m here for boxing.”

Eddie Hearn told the BBC that the UK could learn from the way Saudi Arabia is investing in sport.

“Participation is up 300 per cent  in amateur boxing clubs since the Ruiz fight. There’s a genuine interest in the sport,” Hearn said.

“Does there need to be more change? Loads of it. Is there change? I see it.”

One of those changes will be the first ever women’s pro fight to take place in Saudi Arabia on the undercard, when Ramla Ali — an activist and model as well as an unbeaten boxer — will face Crystal Garcia Nova.

Ramla Ali smiles, winks and points
Ramla Ali has appeared on the cover of Vogue (Getty Images)

Ali said the fact that fight was put on the undercard came at the request of the Saudi royal family.

“You can’t fault a country who are trying to make change,” Ali told the BBC.

“This isn’t just a gimmick of ‘let’s stick on women’ and whatever.

“If I am trying to fight for women’s rights, why wouldn’t I support a country who is trying to make change, who is trying to change women’s rights.”

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