READY FOR SAUDI SPECTACULAR
By Frank Warren
NOW I AM fortunate enough to be experiencing Saudi Arabia first hand, I am in the privileged position of being able to take a glimpse into the future. A spectacular vision that will embrace the best of sport, music and culture.
I am very proud that it is our sport, boxing, which has been chosen to launch Riyadh Season. I think I am on pretty solid ground when I say they don’t do things by halves out here and what we are going to witness on Saturday night will be truly spectacular.
Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou will perform on a stage fit for kings and this historic event will open up big doors for future superfights. Some people mocked and largely missed the point when I stated at the point of announcement of this fight that it was a game changer.
It isn’t about this fight in isolation, it is more what it can lead to as Riyadh becomes the go-to destination for global sporting extravaganzas. And no sport does this better than boxing.
His Excellency Turki Alalshikh and the good Doctor Rakan have made this event possible and delivered on every strand of their promises. Two state-of-the-art venues have been constructed and fitted out in a matter of 60 days and wait until you see the opening ceremony, which is being put together by the same creative people who did likewise for the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl.
As you will have seen for yourselves, the promotion for this event has been sublime and it demonstrates the collective intent of Riyadh Season to make this event a spectacular success that has something for everyone.
This is a long-term vision that we intend to make sure boxing continues to be a big part of. Comparisons to the development of Las Vegas are not wildly off the mark. There were a good few sceptics when it was revealed that an entertainment capital was to be plonked in the middle of the Nevada Desert.
On the subject of sceptics, I know there are a good few very vocal ones who will tell anyone who will listen that Tyson can end his Ngannou encounter at any moment of his choosing.
I hope this is the case because we have got an undisputed blockbuster against Oleksandr Usyk all booked in and we don’t want any mishaps! If Tyson can get him out in a minute then that is what he will do.
But the truth of the matter is Tyson is taking a step into the unknown. Other than the Guinness Book of Records leading us to believe Ngannou can punch a bit, we know very little else about what Tyson is coming up against.
Can Ngannou take a shot? What is his stance? Is his footwork any good? Can he take one to the body? We just don’t know and, if it turns out he possesses a granite chin, we could be in for a longer night than we hope for.
Ngannou has got absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Tyson, in a way, is on a hiding to nothing and will not receive any credit in some quarters whatever way it goes.
I do strongly believe that it will be an entertaining spectacle as long as it lasts because both men will be going for the big finish and bombs will be traded right from the off.
Before the main event, the people here in Riyadh and the fans at home will be treated to a next generation heavyweight showdown between Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye with the British and Commonwealth titles on the line.
This is a major, major opportunity for both of these big fellas to capture the imagination of the watching world and really turbo-charge their careers. Rarely will a battle of the Brits have so many people from across the globe tuning in and the possibilities for the winner are lucrative, to say the least.
Our 18-year-old star-in-the-making Moses Itauma also gets the chance to display his very obvious talents and can show the world who the future force of the division is.
On Saturday night we will witness the beginning of something very special, which can and I am sure will, propel heavyweight boxing back to the pinnacle of the sporting landscape.
Make sure you tune in on TNT Sports Box Office and see for yourselves.