A prominent representative involved in the entertainment complex in Saudi Arabia has advised boxing fans to disregard the latest gossip about possible fights in that region.
Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, a governmental body tasked with expanding cultural offerings in Saudi Arabia, recently issued a terse, if opaque, notice about ongoing developments concerning major prizefights. Saudi Arabia’s GEA is responsible for staging the upcoming 10-round heavyweight bonanza featuring WBC titlist Tyson Fury and former UFC champion Francis Ngannou. Fury is promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank in the US and Frank Warren of Queensberry in the UK.
It is not clear which fights Alalshikh was referring to but most likely he had in mind the much-discussed bout between former heavyweight titlists Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, as well as an undisputed heavyweight championship between unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk and Fury. Earlier this year, it was revealed that another Saudi Arabian outfit, Skill Challenge Promotion, was working to produce a card that would feature Joshua-Wilder and Usyk-Fury.
“There is an important thing I want to say about this fight and the future,” Alalshikh told iFL TV. “There is a lot of rumors in the market. I hope the fans of boxing don’t listen and care about any rumor until they have the official thing from our side. There are a lot of people talking about fighting in Saudi Arabia or meeting me. I never met anyone, except Frank, until now, and Bob and our team from Top Rank and the Tyson-Ngannou team…. We are focusing on this match and [will present] another surprise—you’ll know about it in the right time.”
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, has lately expressed some doubt regarding a Joshua-Wilder match, at least as it pertains to Saudi Arabia.
Most recently, Hearn suggested that he is exploring other venues to stage a fight between Joshua and Wilder, saying that both Las Vegas and London could be possibilities.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.