Joshua set to defend heavyweight titles at Tottenham stadium

Sports

Britain’s Anthony Joshua celebrates after beating Andy Ruiz Jr. to win their World Heavyweight Championship contest at the Diriyah Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Anthony Joshua is set for a London homecoming to start his second reign as world heavyweight champion, with his next fight likely to take place at the recently built stadium of Premier League soccer club Tottenham.

Joshua reclaimed his WBA, WBO and IBF titles early Sunday with a unanimous points decision over Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia, having lost to the Mexican-American in New York in June for the first defeat of his career.

They were the Briton’s first two overseas bouts, with Joshua earning a reported $70 million for fighting in Saudi Arabia, but Joshua wants to defend his titles in front of his home fans.

“London’s calling, I think,” said Joshua, who was born in Watford just outside the capital.

“British supporters do play a big part in my career. Any time I’m on home soil, I can’t lose.”

Joshua, who won the Olympic gold medal at the London Games in 2012, has fought twice at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium, beating Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.

But Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, says the national soccer stadium “doesn’t look great, date-wise” for Joshua’s next fight, which is set to be in April or May against IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev.

Hearn has turned his sights on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which was opened in April and has a 60,000 capacity.

“The phone has gone crazy — it’s like, ‘Bring him here, bring him here,’” Hearn said, sitting alongside Joshua in a restaurant on one of the top floors of a 5-star hotel in Riyadh. “They’ve seen what we’ve done here and there’s a lot of options internationally, but he does want to box back in the UK.

“We spoke to Spurs about hosting this fight (the rematch against Ruiz), which they were keen to do, but unfortunately the dates didn’t work out. They would be keen to do it and it would be a nice stadium to do it in London.”

Hearn said the UK pay-per-view numbers for the Ruiz-Joshua rematch were “well over a million,” which would break the UK record.

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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