Ruiz-Joshua Title Fight Raises Fears of Saudi Arabia ‘Sportswashing' Human Rights Record

Ahead of Saturday's world heavyweight boxing bout, human rights groups accused Riyadh of using sports to rehabilitate its image on the world stage

Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

Anthony Joshua's status as boxing's rising star might not have been the only reputation on the line in Saudi Arabia this weekend, NBC News reports.

British fighter Joshua on Saturday reclaimed his three heavyweight titles in a unanimous points decision. He had lost them to Mexican-American underdog Andy Ruiz Jr., who stunned the sporting world with a seventh round victory at Madison Square Garden in June.

But Saturday's much-anticipated rematch faced criticism for what was happening outside the ring. The world title fight was the first of its kind to take place in the Middle East, but human rights groups called the event an attempt to "sportswash" the kingdom's image on the world stage.

Amnesty International accused the host country of attempting to hide its record behind the prestige of the sporting glamour event and encouraged athletes to use the hype around the fight to shed light on the abuses.

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