William Hill will be unable to sponsor the ring for the heavyweight world title boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia in December, but will be able to market itself in the pre-fight build-up.
Gambling Insider understands William Hill, which sponsored the first match and employs Joshua as an ambassador, will not be able to follow up for the rematch, as it is illegal to gamble in Saudi Arabia.
Ruiz knocked Joshua down four times before stopping him in the seventh round on 1 June at Madison Square Garden. Joshua struggled to cope with Ruiz, much to the disbelief of many, having been as short as 1/33 to win the fight.
Many professionals, including Tyson Fury and Mike Tyson, have since come out in support of Ruiz, believing the Mexican can once again defeat Joshua, tarnishing his image and reputation further.
But one of the major talking points isn't the fight itself - it's the location. Eddie Hearn and Team AJ signed a contract for the rematch to take place in Saudi Arabia, without Ruiz accepting. Ruiz made it clear he wanted to fight in either the US or Mexico.
The decision to allow the boxing match to take place in Saudi Arabia has also been controversial, due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues.
The boxing ring in New York was heavily dowsed in William Hill branding, but with the rematch set to take place at 9pm UK time, the operator will be able to use TV advertising for in-play betting as it is after the watershed of the recent whistle-to-whistle ban.
The operator can also still promote the fight. Gambling Insider has been informed William Hill will continue to work with Joshua, who is William Hill’s brand ambassador, on marketing and social materials.
William Hill’s Communications Director, Ciaran O’Brien, told Gambling Insider: “The deal we have with Anthony Joshua is quite flexible around venues, as there is always the potential for a fight to be in a territory which isn’t licensed.
“We will be adapting our marketing approach to focus on the pre-fight build-up for boxing fans. We’re still very happy with our relationship with Joshua and we will be giving our all behind our marketing campaigns in the build-up to the fight.
“It’s still a massive fight, so the lack of sponsorship of the boxing ring itself won’t impact us. A lot of bets are placed pre-match and so we will be making the full benefits of using Joshua, with press conferences, for example, to maximise our deal with him.”