Former unified light-welterweight world champion, Amir Khan, is set to square off against Australian boxer Billy Dib in Jeddah on Friday, in a match the British Pakistani Olympic fighter hopes will make him the face of boxing in Saudi Arabia.
Khan was originally slated to face Indian Neeraj Goyat at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah less than three months after he was defeated by Terence Crawford. Khan was reportedly being paid $7 million, $3 million more than he earned against Crawford, to headline a team event between fighters representing Pakistan and India. However, Goyat was forced to pull out of the match due to injuries sustained in a car accident and Dib was invited to take his place.
Khan and Dib will be competing for the WBC International Welterweight Championship, part of a series of events at Jeddah’s Season Festival.
Khan’s fight is only the second mega boxing event of it’s kind in Saudi Arabia, following last year’s fight in which British boxers Callum Smith and George Groves competed for the Muhammad Ali Trophy at the same venue in Jeddah.
Khan has been vocal about his hopes that Friday’s event will catapult boxing to the center stage in the Middle East and make him the face of the sport in the region.
“Sometimes it can be hard when you have a replacement opponent. It’s been hard because I’ve working on an opponent from India, Goyat, so what I have to do is change my game plan for this fight. Billy’s a great fighter and a two-time world champion and he’s coming to win so we have to change up a little bit, but I’m ready,” Khan said.
“Me and Dib, we are both ex-world champions, we’re going to put on a great performance for the fans to enjoy. We are going to see fireworks and there will be many more events like this in the future.”
Khan and Dib vary in weight class with Khan competing at welterweight while Dib teeters between featherweight and lightweight. Both Khan and Dib have held World Championship titles in their respective weight classes in the past.
Khan began boxing competitively at age 11 and won an Olympic Silver for boxing when he was 17, making him Britain’s youngest boxing Olympic medalist. He has since risen to become one of the world’s best known and most successful boxers.