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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. will try to replicate his stunning victory over Anthony Joshua in Saturday's rematch. It's a compelling sports story and arguably the year's biggest fight, but the controversial location — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — casts a dark shadow.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia's global reputation was starkly affected by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago, and the country has been accused of hosting sporting events to divert attention away from that story and other human rights abuses, while rebranding itself and boosting tourism.

  • In addition to boxing, WWE wrestling, ATP Tour golf, Formula E racing and the Italian Super Cup (soccer) have all recently been staged there.
  • In the next month alone, it will host the Dakar rally, the Spanish Super Cup, an international tennis event and a European Tour golf tournament (Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy turned down multi-million dollar appearance fees).

What they're saying: Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn sees nothing wrong with hosting the fight in Saudi Arabia. "The Saudis want a more positive image worldwide by bringing in events. But isn't that what they should be doing? They have got to change, and they are changing."

  • "The plan is to make Saudi Arabia the home of mega boxing," Hearn added. "All due respect to Las Vegas, but this place has the ability to bring any fight they want here. ... I also believe that no one has the right to tell a fighter how and where they can earn their money."

The other side: Amnesty International has warned that the Saudis are using this fight to "sportswash" their image.

  • "All over the world, countries are using sport to promote a welcoming picture on the international stage, which often masks a very different reality for ordinary people living in those countries — and when the media circus rolls out of town, things go back to being as bad as they ever were."

The bottom line: "Another lucrative new frontier has emerged in the world of sport. But it may present those tempted to come here with as many quandaries as it does opportunities," writes the BBC's Dan Roan.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Study: Fear of debt keeps Latinos out of college

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fear of never being able to pay off school loans is keeping many young Latinos in the U.S. from going to college or completing a degree, according to a report published in September.

State of play: Latinos tend to have more difficulty repaying school debt than white student borrowers, according to Federal Reserve data, at the same time that they need more loans in order to afford tuition.

23 mins ago - World

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (L) meets with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.

2 hours ago - World

Pentagon warns of ISIS-K capabilities outside Afghanistan

The site of an airstrike conducted by the U.S. against a planner for ISIS-K in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan in August. Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

U.S. intelligence believes ISIS-K has the "intent" to eventually launch attacks outside of Afghanistan and could be capable of doing so "somewhere between six or 12 months," a top Pentagon official told senators Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. withdrawal and subsequent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has raised fears that terrorist groups will reconstitute and potentially pose a renewed threat to the U.S. homeland.