SportsDay
SPORTS UPDATE

August 20 rematch: AJ insists he likes Saudi Arabia

Anthony Joshua has refused to criticise the Saudi regime despite the country facing mounting pressure over its human rights record, saying he he ‘doesn’t know’ what sportswashing is.

Heayvweight star Joshua will looking to win back the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts he lost to Oleksandr Usyk when he faces the Ukrainian boxer again at the Jeddah Super Dome on August 20.

Saudi Arabia has come into the spotlight of late after its heavy involvement in sport with the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund taking over Newcastle United, while they country has also staged Formula One races and backed a controversial new LIV Golf series that has caused a huge stir within the sport.

Joshua is attempting to regain his heavyweight titles after his unanimous decision defeat to Usyk last year

The country’s regime has come under fire over their human rights record – as well as the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – with many activists campaigning against Saudi Arabia hosting lucrative events such as Joshua’s world title fights.

When asked about the current situation in Saudi Arabia, Joshua was keen to keep his focus on his huge fight at the first official press conference and said he was just there to ‘have a good time, mix with the local people and bring entertainment to Saudi Arabia’.

Speaking about the fight’s location and the country’s human rights record, Joshua said: ‘I don’t know what that [sportswashing] is. I’m here to win the heavyweight champion of the world.

‘I like Saudi. I think Saudi’s good. I’m having a good time here. I’m treated really well.

‘All that allegation stuff, for me, I’m not caught up in any of that stuff. I’m here to have a good time, mix with the local people, bring entertainment to Saudi.’

Joshua’s comments about the fight in Saudi Arabia come amid the controversy surrounding the inaugural LIV Golf series event.

Players signing up to the LIV series have received criticism and have been widely condemned because of the human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi regime, which is financing LIV to the tune of $2billion.

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