Home News Saudi Arabia’s next billion-dollar sports project: Boxing takeover

Saudi Arabia’s next billion-dollar sports project: Boxing takeover


Saudi Arabia has already launched a hostile takeover of professional golf. It has invested billions in world soccer. Now it wants to own professional boxing.

Saudi Arabia is in the final stages of approval for an ambitious and costly plan that would reshape the economy, structure and future of boxing, according to two people with knowledge of the plan.

Saudi Arabia’s giant sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, will finance the project and is in final negotiations for an initial investment said to be as much as $2 billion, according to two people involved in the planning, who declined to be named because the project has not yet received final approval.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) declined to comment.

Under the Saudi proposal, about 200 of the world’s top male boxers would be signed and then divided into 12 weight classes to form a global boxing federation.

Each division will have about 15 fighters, allowing the best fighters to face off regularly. The move will effectively create a single boxing entity to replace a sometimes chaotic and frustrating system of fight promoters and feuding sanctioning bodies. The new entity will have the resources and fighters to stage high-profile fights around the world.

Unlike many of the sports Saudi Arabia has previously tried to disrupt, professional boxing may be ripe for reinvention. The sport has lost its luster and some of its appeal in recent decades and is currently governed by a tangled web of competing promoters and decentralized sanctioning bodies that schedule their own fights and award their own championships. This leaves fans sifting through a confusing system that often prevents fights between the best boxers and one that features multiple “champions” in the same weight class.

The new series will operate under one brand name, an arrangement similar to the business model of the wildly popular Ultimate Fighting Championship, which has chipped away at boxing’s global profile. In the UFC, 15 fighters are ranked in each weight division, in addition to a pound-for-pound ranking of the best fighters. In the Saudi-backed event, fighters will be able to move up the rankings but can also be kicked out of the series and replaced by newcomers.

The project has been discussed for more than a year and has been developed with the help of consulting firms, including Boston Consulting Group, which helped shape the Saudi-funded LIV golf series. If an investment decision is confirmed in the coming weeks, the series could start as early as the first half of next year, according to a person involved in the planning.

At this point, PIF will once again provide what the project needs most: funding.

For years, the fund has been the vehicle Saudi Arabia has used to wage a financial assault on the sports industry. Its moves have pumped vast amounts of new capital into clubs, teams, tournaments, federations and sports organizations. But they have also disrupted entire industries, from professional golf to soccer to tennisand sparked criticism that Saudi Arabia was trying to use the so-called “Sports washing

Perhaps the biggest sticking point for Saudi boxing plans is that some of the top fighters have signed long-term contracts with well-known promoters, many of whom often have separate partnerships with different television networks.

To address this problem, discussions have begun on the possibility of PIF investing fully or partially in several of the largest boxing promotion companies, according to planners.

The two largest promoters, Top Rank and Queensbury, declined to comment on any negotiations.

The company is also in talks to partner with traditional boxing organizations, which control not only the rights to major boxers but also valuable intellectual property such as archival footage, historical scores and championship belts once held by champions such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

In the new series, boxers must participate in a certain number of games each year. This move is designed to prevent some top boxers from staying away from boxing for a long time, so as not to cause dissatisfaction among boxing fans.

If the boxing league plan goes ahead, a PIF-owned entity called Sela will be tasked with promoting the events, which will take place not only in Saudi Arabia but around the world. Sports events company Sela has already staged boxing events in Saudi Arabia, including the recent heavyweight unification bout between British boxer Tyson Fury and Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk.

In that fight, Usyk became the first unified heavyweight champion in a generation.

Serra declined to comment on Saudi Arabia’s new boxing plans.

The fight is the latest in a string of high-profile boxing matches to take place in Saudi Arabia in recent years, which has become a top destination for major boxing events due to its richest purses.

Saudi and Sierra will soon further expand their presence with the following events: Riyadh Seasons It will now be held overseas.

The first fight will take place in Los Angeles in August when Terence Crawford and Israel Madrimov fight for the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization super welterweight titles, and could be followed by a bigger event at London’s Wembley Stadium involving former British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

The event has been hyped by Saudi official Turki al-Sheikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, who has quickly become boxing’s most prominent figure.

Al Sheikh is at the heart of the plan to restructure boxing and has mentioned several times Recently interviewed by ESPN He reportedly said in the interview, which gave no details of the new Saudi league, that he planned to “fix” a “broken” sport.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here