first_img The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Support The Guardian A defiant Anthony Joshua has attempted to slip condemnation from human rights organisations about staging his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia by insisting he is not a superhero who can solve the world’s problems by himself.On the third stage of his whistlestop tour to promote the fight – which has taken in Diriyah, near Riyadh, and New York in the space of 48 hours – the Guardian asked Joshua about Amnesty International’s criticisms that the £83m event, billed as the Clash of the Dunes, was being used to “sportswash” the image of a regime that beheads people in public, arrests protesters, and discriminates widely against women. Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Read more “This is boxing,” he said. “No one has the right to tell a fighter they can’t take an opportunity in a sport like this. Every country has problems. We understand that. We’re interested in the boxing, and what this can do for boxing worldwide.”Hearn also rejected the suggestion that Joshua’s decision was similar to cricketers and rugby players agreeing to play in apartheid South Africa.“You cannot compare a game of cricket to a fight,” he said. “As a promoter we see the investment into sport from the region. We see the vision. And when these people tell me: ‘We want to change the sport, we want all the super fights to take place here in Saudi Arabia,’ understand they mean business.“I am never going to turn my back on an opportunity for a fighter to be rewarded, especially financially.”Joshua, meanwhile, praised Ruiz as the best heavyweight on the planet but said he was not planning to dramatically change his approach for the rematch on 7 December.“I am looking at myself in the mirror and saying I know I’m better than that,” he added. “Andy is still the same person. He will come game and I’ve got to change some of my bibs and bobs.”“I was 50% of the way towards getting a win, just got caught,” he added. “It was a punch from the gods. It wasn’t a lucky punch from him, it just caught me on the head and I couldn’t recover. It was pitch perfect.“Getting to the top is one thing, but staying at the top for an amount of years, that’s a whole other story. I’ve got to up my game to get my title back.” Share via Email Since you’re here… “I appreciate them voicing an opinion,” said Joshua. “And it’s good to talk about issues in the world. But I’m there to fight. If I want to put on my cape where I’m going to save the world, we all have to do it together. The questions and the things that are happening in the world in general can’t be left to one man to solve. We all have to make a difference.”The 29-year-old, who is rumoured to be making at least £40m, insisted it was better establishing a friendship with the Saudi authorities than attacking them from London.“I’ve actually been to Saudi Arabia and I’m building a relationship,” he said. “Some of the questions that the world has to ask, maybe I could be a spokesman? It’s a blessing and they can speak back. And that’s relationship building, rather than just accusing, pointing fingers and shouting from Great Britain. In order to ask questions, and people that may want to make change, you have to go and get involved.”Joshua rejected suggestions that showing support for the regime might damage his reputation, and urged critics to look at the bigger picture.“Will they hate me now?” he asked quizzically. “Look at the bigger picture. And that’s why when we look at the whole picture, we have to judge not by a chapter but by the book.“From what I saw of Saudi Arabia it was phenomenal. It is going to be a really good event. And I am really looking forward to it. This is a defining moment in sporting history. And that’s why this is a massive opportunity. And I don’t know, the ins and outs. I can only speak for what I have seen.”Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, was more combative, questioning whether human rights organisations had the right to challenge him for trying to do the best for his man. Topics Anthony Joshua defends desert fight and points to Saudi Arabia ‘reforms’center_img Share on Twitter news Share on Pinterest Read more … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. 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