Promoter Frank Warren believes that Tyson Fury’s upcoming bouts against Francis Ngannou and Oleksandr Usyk will not be the last to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, believing it is just the start for boxing to make itself a staple in the desert of Saudi.
Warren, alongside Top Rank, will promote Fury’s exhibition affair with former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh. WBC world heavyweight champion Fury will face Ngannou over ten rounds and will face unified world heavyweight champion Usyk in Riyadh on a date yet to be confirmed.
Fury’s agreed bout with Usyk is being targeted for December 23, failing that, in January.
Boxing is slowly becoming a fixture within Saudi Arabia, having previously hosted the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final between George Groves and Callum Smith, the sport is no stranger to the kingdom and joins the likes of Formula One, Italian soccer and wrestling as sports which the Saudi kingdom has purchased rights for to host events within their territory.
The brains behind the operation is Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, who presides and finances both fights as part of “Riyadh Season.”
Warren is confident the relationship with Alalshikh will continue to be fruitful in arranging major fights for British fighters, even if the cost is that those fights fail to take place on British soil and instead on Saudi territory. Ultimately, Warren believes it is a better alternative for the British public for fights to take place in Saudi Arabia with a more friendly time difference for UK viewing.
“The good news for the fans that can’t get to Saudi is that they can watch them on prime time in the UK,” Warren told Pro Boxing Fans. “They’re not going to sit up until four or five o’clock in the morning. So that’s the great news. And the real great news is that the fights are being made. They’re happening.
“This, I hope, will be the first of many, many big events that are going on over there, which I know that it will be. So, this is fabulous. It’s fabulous for boxing. Things are happening. There’s a real buzz about things now.”
The media outlet also asked Warren about the collapse of the Saudi promotional entity, Skill Challenge Entertainment, which sought to host a contest between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder later this year. However, no deal ever came to fruition, and the firm has seemingly gone into obscurity. Rival promoter Eddie Hearn is now looking at alternative venues to host the proposed heavyweight attraction, Joshua and Wilder.
Warren ultimately finalised that in comparison to himself and Hearn. “It’s happening if you’re over this side,” Warren said of delivering big fights. “On the other side, they’re not happening.”