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Schedule not Sharia preventing Katie Taylor from fighting on Ruiz-Joshua Saudi show says Hearn

‘Schedule’ rather than any Saudi law is at present the main stumbling block between Katie Taylor [14(6)-0] and an appearance on the  Andy Ruiz v Anthony Joshua rematch undercard.

The heavyweight pair will do battle again for the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, on December 7th in a repeat of their June clash in New York for which Taylor was one of the chief supports.

However, Wicklow’s unified lightweight champion will not feature in what would be a fifth Joshua undercard appearance – and their promoter, Eddie Hearn, stresses that this is merely down to schedule.

The Matchroom boss has come under fire from various sections of the public and press with various gripes since confirming he was taking the massive heavyweight world title fight to the controversial Gulf nation.

Amnesty International have accused Saudi Arabia of ‘sportswashing’ whilst joining a host of people online in raising concerns around the oil-rich country’s blood-stained human rights history.

Others have raised logistical questions with regard to visas, travel, and the ability of women to attend the event – all of which Hearn stressed won’t be an issue.

Touching on both strands, there were a large cohort who questioned whether or not Katie Taylor, a female, could appear on the card in a country where women only obtained the right to drive a car last year.

Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of dictator King Salman, Saudi Arabia has been making inroads and this month issued a decree which stated that women over 21 are now able to obtain passports and travel abroad without permission from their male ‘guardian’.

However, their Sharia-based legal system still differentiates extensively and rather disgustingly between genders.

The world’s premier professional wrestling organisation, the WWE, have hosted three events in Saudi Arabia but none of their female stars were ‘allowed’ to participate.

Boxing fans have been querying if that would be the case come December 7th, with most referencing Taylor to make their point.

Hearn, who admits he was prepared for criticism, has not ruled out the possibility of Katie Taylor or any female fighter appearing on the card and suggested talks were on going in that regard.

However, he did stress the unified lightweight champion would be the one female fighter he would look to put on the show – only to reveal that remains unlikely due to the fact the Bray fighter has a to-be-announced November date pencilled in.

“They are ongoing discussions. The fighter we would have there is Katie Taylor. She’s due to fight in November though, so I’m not sure if that’s going to fit with her schedule,” said Hearn when speaking to CNN.

It’s quite vague in terms of any restrictions put on Matchroom with regard to the undercard.

However, while Taylor has played a huge role in Anthony Joshua undercards to date, it has been assumed in Irish circles that she was never due to appear on the Ruiz-Joshua II card.

October and November have been the rumoured months for the Brian Peters-managed fighter’s return for some time now.

Even when Cardiff was mentioned as a possible venue for the massive heavyweight rematch, America was still being talked about as the country to host Taylor’s next fight.

Indeed, even if this was not the case, it is unknown and perhaps even unlikely that Taylor would be keen on boxing in such an unpalatable location as Saudi Arabia.


Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com