The Saudi Arabians are spending big to ensure that tonight’s fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou is a star studded affair. They have flown in boxing royalty from all around the world with Manny Pacquiao among the guests who will be in attendance.
Manny and his wife, Jinkee, were at a reception yesterday that was full of familiar faces. Among the boxing legends in attendance were Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dmitry Bivol and Roy Jones.
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Fury is facing Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion There were mixed martial artists in attendance yesterday too with Quinton Jackson pointing out just how big the budget for this event appears to be,
“The weigh in looks like it cost more than Bellator.”
Presumably he is comparing the cost of putting on a regular Bellator event, rather than the value of the actual promotion which is reportedly for sale. But the Saudi Arabians appear to have a practically unlimited budget for these events.
— Rampage Jackson (@Rampage4real) October 27, 2023
Saudi Arabia appears willing to spend billions in order to establish itself as a major global player in the sporting world. The state recently secured a major stake in the PGA Tour purchased an 80% stake in Newcastle United and is on track to host the 2034 World Cup.
The UFC will be heading to Saudi Arabia next year. The promotion has been putting on annual events in Abu Dhabi and will be heading to Riyadh on March 2nd for what looks set to be the start of a regular run of shows in the city.
Fury is sufficiently confident of emerging from tonight’s fight unscathed that he has already agreed to face Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh on December 23rd. While Ngannou has never boxed before the Ukrainian holds a 21-0 record and looks to be a much more serious challenge for the undefeated Englishman.
The domestic football league in Saudi Arabia was virtually unknown outside of the country a couple of years ago. Since then a massive influx of money has tempted the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to sign for clubs there.
Saudi Arabia might not be a country that has traditionally been associated with combat sport. That looks set to change and big money boxing and MMA fights in Riyadh are set to become a regular fixture on the calendar.