Had he not been appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur late last month, Jose Mourinho would most likely be in Saudi Arabia this weekend, taking in a bit of history.
The Spurs manager, a boxing fan, said on Friday that he was given a special invitation to attend “Clash on the Dunes” in Diriyah on Saturday night, when Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua go head-to-head in their world heavyweight title rematch.
Joshua will attempt to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he lost in a shock defeat to Ruiz in New York on June 1 – labelled one of the greatest shocks in boxing history.
Yet Mourinho won’t be there to see how it all unfolds. The Portuguese manager took the Spurs reigns on November 20 following Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking the previous day, and therefore will instead by looking to guide his new side to a bounce-back victory against Burnley at home. Mourinho suffered his first defeat as Tottenham manager on Wednesday, losing 2-1 to former employers Manchester United.
Asked on Friday if he thought Joshua could win back his belts in Saudi, Mourinho, who was at the O2 Arena in 2016 to see the Olympic champion triumph against Charles Martin, said, “That’s the only bad thing for me in getting the job at Tottenham that I’m not going to be there. I was invited by the Prince to be there, but I prefer to be in the match against Burnley.”
Pushed as to whether he expected a Joshua victory, Mourinho replied, “I’m not an expert. I just love the sport. I like Anthony very much because he’s a great kid and I hope he wins. But in sport you can lose. So let’s see.”