Saudi Arabia’s Rise In Boxing Excites De La Hoya, Arum, Warren And Hearn

January 14, 2024
1 month
Saudi Arabia's Rise In Boxing Excites De La Hoya And Co

Saudi Arabia is looking to stage the biggest fights, getting the attention of Oscar De La Hoya, Bob Arum, Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn

The Kingdom is making noise in boxing, having already staged mega-fights. They put on Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou, the ‘Day of Reckoning’ boxing card, and set up Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua vs Ngannou. Those fights have earned the boxers some mega paydays. Saudi’s decision has navigated problems over networks and purse splits by giving fighters what they want directly. That has left Hearn, De La Hoya and Arum with some serious thinking to do over where they put their biggest fighters. 

Saudi Arabia’s Rise

“People talk about these big fights going to Saudi Arabia. Good, because we ain’t gonna get these fights without it,” Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn said this week. “It’s next-level stuff. And it’s a pleasure to be a part of it … it’s good news for the fans that we’re seeing all these major fights,” Hearn

“Do I want the quick money in Saudi Arabia, and lose the fanbase, and lose the fans that the fighters need to progress their career? That’s why I have these sleepless nights all the time because I’m constantly thinking about what is the next move … Look, money is money, and it’s green. You know, if Saudi Arabia is going to offer something crazy, you have to think about it,” De La Hoya

“There is also a downside to it. For a lot of these events, I would prefer for it to be offered to the fans without a paywall. Wouldn’t it be great if it was on free television? That would be great for the sport, but you can’t have everything. At least it enables the fights to happen. With the Saudis backing the sport and the big fights taking place in the Kingdom, nothing is 100 percent. Everything has its compromises, in life and in business. I think we have to be pleased we’re seeing these big fights no matter where they take place,” Arum  

Saudi Arabia's Rise In Boxing Excites De La Hoya And Co
Credit The Times

Further Reaction

Despite this being the case, this approach has a major problem. Boxers may decide to hold out from making fights to secure a big purse in Saudi. That will only be available for the sport’s biggest stars, but it could give fighters an inflated view of themselves.

There is also the problem for the boxing fans. British and American fans are known for staying loyal to the sport, but if fights move away from those areas, not all fans will have the means to get to Saudi. That is why it is paramount that there is a balance. But if fighters are getting life-changing money, it is hard to argue against that.

“What counts is the fighters, and the fighters are getting life-changing money for these fights. We can’t stand in the way for whatever reasons we might. So they will take place. There will be bigger fights [in 2024] that we’ll be working on,” Warren stated  

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