Anthony Joshua’s return adds to Saudi sporting portfolio

Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk has been announced for Saudi Arabia on August 20.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at other competitions held around the country.

Formula One

The first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix took place in December 2021 with a night race in Jeddah, with the sport’s fastest street circuit, and returned there in March to even more controversy when a missile strike on a oil refinery 10 miles from the runway threatened a walkout by the drivers. The event also took place against a backdrop of human rights concerns, just days before the country carried out the mass execution of 81 men.

Boxing

Joshua previously fought in Saudi Arabia when reclaiming the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO world belts from Andy Ruiz at the Diriyah Arena (Nick Potts/PA)

(PA Archive)

Joshua has fought in the country before. He reclaimed his world heavyweight titles by defeating Andy Ruiz Jr in the so-called ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Riyadh in December 2019. The highly anticipated rematch followed Amir Khan’s international WBC welterweight victory over Australian Billy Dib in Jeddah in 2019.

Soccer

Two Italian Super Cup finals have taken place in Saudi Arabia. Juventus – courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo goal – beat AC Milan in Jeddah in January 2019, before losing 3-1 to Lazio in Riyadh later that year. Real Madrid have won two Spanish Super Cups in Jeddah, the first in 2020 beating Atletico and again this year with a win over Athletic Bilbao.

Golf

Established in 2019, Saudi International became the first European Tour event to be played in the country. Rory McIlroy has ruled out taking part in the 2020 tournament, confirming there was “a morality” behind his decision. Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell won the event, while Dustin Johnson won the inaugural staging and added another title in 2021. Controversial Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series lands in Jeddah in October as the penultimate round of the eight-event series. Next is the Aramco Team Series event in the city, which was born out of the Saudi Ladies Team International in 2020.

Struggle

WWE has held events in Saudi Arabia since 2018. There have been seven visits there so far, with a second this year scheduled for November. Tyson Fury, Joshua’s heavyweight, had a previous event in Saudi Arabia when he made his debut at the “Crown Jewel” event in October 2019, where he defeated Braun Strowman at King Fahd International Stadium.

Horses race

The richest horse race in the world takes place in Saudi Arabia. The US$20m (£15.2m) Saudi Cup has been staged for the past three years at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.

Sports car

The last three editions of the Dakar Rally have been held in Saudi Arabia and its return is scheduled for 2023. Carlos Sainz, father of Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr, won the 2020 car event, the double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso finishing 13th. . For the past four years, Formula E has held a race on the Riyadh street circuit.

Billiards

October 2020 was to see Saudi Arabia host a ranking event for the first time, as part of a 10-year partnership agreement with World Snooker. But the first Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters in Riyadh – which was due to have a total fund of £2.5million, including a top prize of £500,000 – has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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