A rematch between boxers Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday is expected to sell well on pay-per-view, but the fight’s outcome could set up an even more lucrative bout for the embattled heavyweight division.
Prominent boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said he expects the rematch to break the United Kingdom’s record for boxing PPV buys, surpassing the 1.5 million domestic buys generated by Joshua’s match with Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, British outlet The Sun reported. That would require a significant improvement over the initial fight’s performance, which drew just 403,000 PPV buys in the U.K for Ruiz’s stunning knockout victory over the previously undefeated Joshua.
The heavyweight division is looking for a PPV coup after a relatively weak performance for last month’s clash between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz. Wilder’s knockout win over his rival generated less than 300,000 PPV buys in the U.S., according to BoxingScene.com.
But Ruiz-Joshua is considered a table-setter for potential super-matches in the future. Knockout artist Wilder is already tabbed for a rematch with British brawler Tyson Fury in February 2020. A previous match between the two ended in a draw in December 2018.
Legendary promoter Bob Arum said the upcoming grudge match between Wilder and Fury could generate a massive haul in PPV sales.
‘With ESPN and FOX backing the promotion, and with Comcast really, and the cable systems really enthusiastic, I’m looking at doing in excess of two million pay-per-view buys,” Arum said during an appearance on the Everlast Talkbox podcast.
Depending on the outcome of Ruiz-Joshua II and Wilder-Fury II, an even bigger match could be in the works. Wins for Ruiz and Wilder would set up a rare undisputed heavyweight title match in 2020 or beyond.
Boxing’s heavyweight division hasn’t had an undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis accomplished the feat in 2000.