Frank Warren: 'We are sitting in the world capital of boxing'

The Day of Reckoning has been massive so far, and in today’s press conference, Frank Warren was all smiles as he gushed over how successful the event had been so far. While smiling ear to ear, Warren said, “In this moment in time, we are sitting in the world capital of boxing. Riyadh Season will be putting on all of the big fights that matter.”

That is a huge statement expected from a promoter who is likely pocketing a ton of money with no risk involved in planning or executing the event. It begs the question: Is Warren right? Where we are with boxing in Saudi Arabia has been a carefully calculated move by Turki Alalshikh and those involved with putting together these events. 

Although Alalshikh may not have been involved in the initial event there in Saudi Arabia, George Groves vs. Callum Smith in 2018 for the World Boxing Super Series event, the Saudis have been building towards this moment. That was followed by Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz 2 in 2019, Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk 2 in August 2022, Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury in February, and Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou in October. These events were spaced out so that they could take the lessons learned from each and build towards a more efficient one in the future. Once they were comfortable enough to hold consistent events, that’s when the Saudis would make their move to take over boxing.

Although a takeover seems like an aggressive word, the biggest fights are occurring there if you look around. “This is something unique, unusual, and I believe it’s going to be the future. I believe we will get more of these types of events certainly next year,” Warren said with a smirk.

The Riyadh Season presence is steadily increasing within the sport. They are continuing the takeover by hosting our generation's biggest undisputed heavyweight title fight when Fury meets Usyk on February 17. Also, if Wilder & Joshua are victorious on Saturday, they could face each other on the reported March 9 date there in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, Dmitry Bivol revealed that his deal with the Saudis is for two fights, and everyone anticipates that the second fight is for the undisputed light heavyweight crown.

Not only was Warren praising the event coordinators, but The Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion Jai Opataia (23-0, 18 KOs) was as well, who faces Ellis Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) on Saturday night. “Shout out to his excellency- the man we need for these fights to happen. Putting the politics aside and the best fight the best.”

It will be a topic of discussion next year, especially if the major fights continue to be held in Saudi Arabia. Has all the political battles in boxing with promoters led to this where all significant events happen away from their home territories? It’s something that boxing will keep an eye on, and if you have been following the sport, the events go where the money is, which has historically been Las Vegas, NV, but now it looks like it’s going to be Saudi Arabia.

As Warren ended his comments, he wanted to hype the Day of Reckoning one more time before passing it off to the fighters and their teams. “Eight fights on this card-there will be upsets.” Warren continued, “I’m telling you guys, Saturday night is going to be something very very special.”