Home Boxing News Turki Alalshikh and the changing face of boxing

Turki Alalshikh and the changing face of boxing

Turki Alalshikh

Much of the boxing world has fallen in love with fights from Saudi Arabia, but not everybody is a fan.

In less than a year Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority in Saudi Arabia, has gone from a fringe player to boxing’s kingmaker.

Compelling matchups that were previously thought impossible to make due to promotional rivalries and exorbitant demands of the boxers are now coming thick and fast under Alalshikh’s influence. A few extra zeros on a cheque can have that effect.

Last weekend saw fierce rivals Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn put their difference aside for a co-promotion that pitted five boxers from each of their stables against the other.

In the opener light heavyweight Willy Hutchinson 18-1 (13) outpointed Craig Richards 18-4-1 (11) over 12 before Nick Ball 20-0-1 (11) was crowned WBA featherweight champion with a split decision win over Raymond Ford 15-1-1 (8) in an action-packed fight.

Middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz 20-0 (16) proved why he is one of the hottest commodities at 160-pounds with an 11th round knockout of Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams 16-1 (11), while at heavyweight Daniel Dubois 21-2 (20) upset Filip Hrgovic 17-1 (14) with an eighth-round stoppage on cuts and Zhilei Zhang 27-2-1 (22) put away ex-WBC ruler Deontay Wilder 43-4-1 (42) in five.

It was a five-nil sweep for Warren’s Queensberry Promotions in the end, but that didn’t matter. The fights were well matched and for the most part delivered in terms of action.

If there is one gripe about these massive Saudi cards, it’s the pacing of the fights. The 5v5 card, which also included a title defence by WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol 23-0 (12) against Malik Zinad 22-1 (16), ran for almost seven hours.

Retired former world champion turned pundit Carl Froch had a different take on the show. Speaking on his YouTube channel, the 46-year-old Brit said: “I don’t care what anybody says, people come back and forth and people are stroking egos, agreeing with people when they say that the atmosphere [in Saudi Arabia] is good, that the atmosphere is okay.

“The atmosphere tonight in Saudi Arabia was fucking shocking.

“That’s all that there is to say about it. Nobody was interested and there was some good fights on there tonight, some good heavyweight fights, Nick Ball became world champion, Hamzah Sheeraz put the performance in, it was a good show.

“People are sitting at ringside on their phones, they are not animated so hopefully that has closed the argument as to whether or not there is an atmosphere in Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t want to keep banging on about it but don’t tell me that the atmosphere is like it is in Britain, like it is at the O2 Arena, the Nottingham Arena, Wembley Stadium.

“You can’t beat the British crowd, the British fans, the hardcore, salt of the earth British boxing fans that get behind the fighters, the passion [that they have got].”

Fortunately for Froch, Turki Alalshikh already has plans to take his show on the road. Former two-weight undisputed champion Terence Crawford 40-0 (31) will meet Israil Madrimov 10-0-1 (7) at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, California on August 3.

And in September Alalshikh is planning a big show for London’s Wembley Stadium that will likely be headlined by former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 28-3 (25) facing Dubois.

That should fix up the atmosphere problems.

Now can we just do something about the pacing, please?