After the boxing world witnessed one of the most seismic heavyweight upsets in history just under a fortnight ago, the inquests have been relentless. Former-unified champion Anthony Joshua – dethroned by Andy Ruiz via 7th round TKO – has been under the microscope as fans and media alike try to comprehend what exactly went wrong.
Though every excuse under the sun has been churned out and shared en-masse via the rumour mill, Joshua and team have remained noble in defeat. No talk of panic attacks, sparring stories or otherwise – only the need to right the wrongs of a catastrophic night at Madison Square Garden. With a rematch seemingly in the works for late 2019, talk is already rife of where we’ll see the pair square off once again. Below, we analyse five potential venues ahead of what will surely be the most highly-anticipated heavyweight match-up of the year…
Madison Square Garden, New York
After suffering his first professional defeat in this very arena, Anthony Joshua remains keen to return to the scene of the slaughter. The Garden arguably offers the most romantic narrative of all venues in discussion, with the lure of being able to somewhat re-write the history books proving tempting for ‘AJ’. Should the challenger reclaim his throne by toppling Ruiz in the place where his career hit its first major speed bump, his stock would arguably be higher than ever.
Ruiz – the newly-appointed heavyweight landlord – may also be content with returning to New York to defend his crown. Though ‘The Destroyer’ has not directly said he would be opposed to travelling to the UK for a rematch, he has spoken of his eagerness for the contest to take place in either the USA or Mexico. With droves of Mexican fans now on-board with their new World champion, Ruiz could expect a far bigger share of the crowd if the rematch lands Stateside.
Wembley Stadium, London
Could we see Joshua return to ‘The Lion’s Den’? Though an outdoor venue without a fully closable roof would be far from ideal for an end-of-year bout, Eddie Hearn has expressed his desire to bring the highly-anticipated rematch to the United Kingdom. The 29-year-old Joshua experienced his defining night in England’s national stadium back in 2017, when 90,000 onlookers watched him prevail in a heavyweight classic against the iconic Wladimir Klitschko.
The Watford man has two stoppage wins from as many visits to Wembley, having halted Russia’s Alexander Povetkin within seven rounds back in September before another bumper crowd. Andy Ruiz has publicly set the bar at an unlikely $50m to put his belts on the line on British shores – though any significant career-high payday could prove tempting enough for the unified heavyweight champion to travel overseas.
Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Similarly to Wembley, Anthony Joshua has amassed two of his higher-profile wins in Wales’ Principality Stadium. Following a somewhat underwhelming 10th round TKO victory over Carlos Takam just under two years ago, Joshua added the WBO World title to his collection back in March 2018 with a comfortable points victory over the then-undefeated Joseph Parker. Cardiff’s 74,500 seater venue boasts a fully-retractable roof – meaning treacherous winter weather would not prove to be a stumbling block ahead of the proposed November/December rematch.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Having eventually opened its doors in April following prolonged delays, the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is now in the discussion to host the highly-anticipated Ruiz-Joshua rematch. Sitting in North London with a capacity of 62,000, Eddie Hearn confirmed in recent days that the stunning new venue could play host to the heavyweight showdown – should the fight land in the UK.
Barclays Center, Brooklyn
As previously mentioned, Anthony Joshua has expressed his desire to settle the score in New York. The Barclays Center has played host to several of fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder’s devastating performances – including his recent one-round demolition of Dominic Breazeale. The 19,000 capacity indoor arena could be of interest if the rematch does indeed head stateside, with Joshua and team still determined to ‘crack’ the US market with an improved showing across the pond.
Article by: Ryan Elliott
Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @rbe_73