Joshua wants women undercards on his return

Author: Kwame Larweh
Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua says a women's fight could be on the undercard of his Saudi Arabia rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.

Joshua, 29, will bid to win back the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles in Diriyah on December 7.

The Briton insists women will be able to attend the fight in a country criticised for its human rights record and treatment of women.

"We are looking at potentially putting a woman on the undercard," he told BBC 5 Live Boxing.

"We've listened to the critics and asked questions to organisers. The event will be spectacular, no doubt about it.

"We hear they are building the grassroots out there. What boxing has done for the likes of myself, building confidence, this is what boxing is to Saudi Arabia. It's not just two men coming together to fight."

The bout has attracted criticism since it was announced it would be in Saudi Arabia.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has highlighted the country's "abysmal" human rights record.

Anthony Joshua faces Andy Ruiz Jr in a rematch on December 7

Heavy restrictions on freedom of expression and women's rights have been raised, as has the use of the death penalty for offences not recognised as crimes under international law.

The Kingdom has sought to stage sporting and entertainment events in a bid to attract visitors and move away from its oil-dependent economy.

Women were allowed to drive for the first time in 2018 but still require the permission of a man to travel or hold a passport.

'A groundbreaking women's bout'

Promoter Eddie Hearn says talks are "ongoing" with regard to staging a women's bout on the card.

"That would be incredibly groundbreaking," Hearn told 5 Live Boxing's Steve Bunce.

"We have had criticism with the choice of venue.

"Saudi Arabia is trying to showcase to the world via sport and entertainment 'we are changing'. There's no better message than delivering that."

A defeat which cost sleep -- Joshua

Organisers have repeatedly stated that "everyone" is welcome at the much-anticipated rematch, which will be held in a 16,000-seat purpose-built outdoor arena.

Joshua told BBC Sport he was certain women could attend the bout, which follows the first defeat of his career courtesy of a shock seventh-round stoppage at the hands of Ruiz in New York in June.

He revealed he has since received guidance during phone calls from former unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko and praised his friendship group for rallying around him following the defeat.

"It took me about three weeks, I thought about it every night before I slept," added Joshua.

"You realise how tough you are. Some need comforting, I didn't. I have to let the past be the past."

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