Saudi Arabia Arrival Begins Boxing’s Bold New Era

For as long as boxing has been around, so too have the powers to fund, guide and gain from it. 

Whether that’s through financial incentives or for pulling power and reputation, the sport has always had a towering presence overshadowing its every move within the ring and outside of it. 

Pumping funds into prize-fighting and hoping to capitalise on its long-standing market and popularity has become a priority for many influential figures, organisations and, most recently, national royalty.

From mobsters who unlawfully ran the sport in its so-called ‘glory days’ to money-laden companies that briefly dipped their fingers in the boxing wishing pool, it’s now Saudi Arabia’s turn to optimistically cast their riches into the deep end. 

But is their arrival on the scene just another fleeting financial foray or have they begun a positive new era for boxing? BOXRAW analyse Saudi Arabia’s bold emergence in the sport and their growing impact. 

Pros of Saudi Arabia’s Boxing Takeover

Saudi Arabia’s impact on boxing, and on global sport as a whole, has been swift. 

As well as helping to push boxing to a wider audience, through spectacle showcase events with the most distinguished celebrity names in attendance at ringside, other sports such as football, snooker and golf have been positively affected too. 

That sporting takeover now sees many calling Saudi Arabia the new home of boxing – which may not be as drastic as first thought. 

While plenty of eyebrows were raised and doubts cast initially when Saudi arrived on the scene, there’s no denying the positive motions they’ve quickly put in place.

Turki Alalshikh is the man behind boxing in Saudi Arabia and its success.

For a long time, the key complaint from fans was the biggest fights weren’t being made. The best taking on the best. While that has changed in recent years for the good, Saudi Arabia have helped boost this even further. 

The best match-ups are in fact coming to fruition and a lot quicker than usual. Along with those huge top-of-the-bill bouts, stacked undercards are welcomingly being forged for fans. 

This stems from a seemingly endless budget to attract the biggest names to Saudi to trade leather with their most prominent rivals. 

If a fighter refuses the riches on offer for such clashes, it now shines an undesired spotlight on them and forces fans to throw the dreaded ‘duck’ remarks at them. 

But if they’re willing and the money is right (which it always is in Saudi), then these star-studded events are seamlessly being set up without much hassle.

More Money, Less Problems

That’s a key benefit of the Saudi financial injection too. Fighters are being paid, very well. If anyone should be earning prosperously for prize-fighting, it’s obviously those who dare to step into the squared-circle. 

Even other boxers, who would normally have to grind extremely hard just to make semi-decent purses on undercards in other countries, are now having their efforts repaid more generously. 

Not to mention having a huge platform for them to showcase their talents, that may have otherwise got overlooked on other less prestigious shows or not seen at all.

As well as the massive audiences now tuning in to witness these mammoth fight nights, the celebrities and sporting names tactically placed at ringside helps increase the ever-growing popularity.

Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou was one of the Saudi Arabia spectacles (Image: Riyadh Season).

The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (now plying his trade in Saudi Arabia on the pitch), Conor McGregor and many more household faces are regularly in attendance for these events. 

This has helped shine a new and brighter light on boxing – subsequently gathering fresh appeal. 

Another key factor to arise from the Saudi Arabia arrival is the barriers between rival promoters and networks that have been broken down. 

For years, fights between boxers on opposing promotional stables or TV networks would unlikely take place due to boxing’s frustrating politics. 

But the new cash injection and mass appeal has helped overcome those past obstacles and breath a new lease of life into previously stalling bouts.  

Potential Cons of Saudi’s Sporting Surge

While the majority of fans have come to appreciate the positive effects Saudi Arabia’s sudden surge into boxing, some still hold some apprehension about the future. 

That’s understandable, with the key question here being is it genuinely sustainable long-term? 

Is there an eventual end date for this latest deep-pocket plunge into boxing? It’s obvious that those who are now paying the astronomical purses and costs for each event have the resources to carry on doing so in the near future. 

But there are doubts over whether this will be able to continue for years and even decades down the line, with a potential limit on the horizon for drawing the big names.

Can Saudi Arabia sustain their surge into boxing? (Image: PA).

Also, due to Saudi Arabia being able to make extravagant offers to secure the big fights, nowhere else can compete with the finances on hand. 

This could ultimately have a backlash on boxing back in the UK and Ireland, or even in the United States. 

Fighters may not have the same desire to continue competing for lesser funds closer to home when they’re offered far greater rewards abroad. 

The other potential knock-on effect down the line is that fighters may begin demanding higher earnings across the board, outside of these Saudi Arabia-run shows. 

Saudi Arabia’s Arrival Begins New Era

In that case, if Saudi eventually step back from the boxing scene in years to come, it could leave unrepairable damage for those remaining, with regards to paying what boxers will ultimately be asking for.

Beyond the potential money issues down the line and any other lingering concerns, the new hotbed for sporting spectacles is here, with Saudi Arabia’s grand arrival beginning boxing’s bold new era at the centre of it all.