Sponsors back Anthony Joshua to stage fight in Saudi Arabia




Joshua and Ruiz

’s controversial decision to fight in Saudi Arabia will not affect the £8.3million he earns from sponsorship and endorsements.

Joshua faces Andy Ruiz Jnr in Diriyah in December as he looks to win back the world heavyweight titles he lost in a surprise defeat in June. 

Saudi Arabia has come under criticism for its human rights record, with Amnesty International claiming the fight is ‘likely to be yet another opportunity for the Saudi authorities to try to ‘sportswash’ their severely tarnished image’. 

They say Joshua should speak out about human rights in the country but promoter Eddie Hearn insisted ‘political questions are above my head’.

Joshua is one of Britain’s most marketable athletes, with firms including British Airways, Jaguar Land Rover, Lucozade and Under Armour associated with the 29-year-old.

When Sportsmail gave his major partners the opportunity to comment on the fight, only three responded — and none suggested their deals would be affected by his decision.

Land Rover stated they were proud of their association with global ambassador Joshua.

‘Our partnership stems from a passion for sport and comes with no political motives or political agenda,’ they said.

A spokesperson for Lucozade, whose parent company Suntory Beverage & Food Europe claim to be committed to ‘safeguarding human rights within our business and supply chain’, said: ‘We’re proud that with and other sporting icons, we’ve inspired over 1.5m people to exercise and we will continue — through this partnership and beyond — to encourage people.’

StubHub responded by merely outlining they are the ‘official ticket distribution channel’ for Matchroom, its UK fighters, and AJ’s British fights.

Other big businesses, including Hugo Boss and Beats By Dre, failed to reply. 

Last year the chief executive of Apple, Beats By Dre’s parent company, was awarded the Human Rights Award in Alabama, while Hugo Boss insist they are ‘thoroughly committed to upholding human rights and complying with labour standards in all areas of our business activities’.

Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns Felix Jakens said: ‘Despite long-overdue reforms on women’s rights, Saudi Arabia is in the grip of a sweeping human rights crackdown, with women’s rights activists, lawyers and members of the Shia minority community all being targeted.’

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