Turki Alalshikh and Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority are changing the face of heavyweight boxing with their incredible ‘Riyadh Season’ spectacular, and they are nowhere near finished yet.
An amazing time for the sport’s marquee weight class began in October when Tyson Fury squeaked past boxing novice and former MMA superstar Francis Ngannou in a much-hyped ‘crossover’ fight.
Next up we get the match for all of the marbles – that Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk unification match on February 17 to crown boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight king since Lennox Lewis back in 1999. Then it is Joshua vs Ngannou (along with Joseph Parker vs Zhilei Zhang) on March 8.
Fights which until now seemed impossible to make are becoming reality – and fast. But His Excellency Turki Alalshikh – Chairman of the GEA – is not done yet, as he confirmed at Monday’s presser to officially announce Joshua vs Ngannou.
He revealed he wants the winner of Fury vs Usyk to fight the Joshua vs Ngannou winner – which of course opens the door for Fury vs Joshua to FINALLY happen. He always wants rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren to go head to head on a card with five fights featuring their fighters locking horns.
Turki Alalshikh on boxing strategy
He sat down with boxing streaming platform DAZN for an in-depth interview (watch it all at the bottom of this page) about his plans for the future, and we can confirm they are popcorn-worthy….
He revealed: “Because I am a fan of boxing, I have people to study it. In the 70s and 80s boxing was the number one sport in the world. Now it is 14. There is a lot of reason – some it is there aren’t as many charismatic fighters. There is a lot of problem of promoters, who doesn’t want to do the strongest fight because it costs a lot. Some fighters don’t want to do the strongest fight. And there is four companies and four belts. So many problems.
“Also you need to catch the youngest generation now – you need to have good boxers, good music, good show, DJ, you understand me. Good promotion, use a lot of cameras, a lot of things. Similar to what UFC now do. They do what’s right because they are a company, and they are the only company.
“We are coming with new strategies, new ideas and new vision to deliver to the market the best fights with a good price. Make the fights that people want to see. Tyson is around 35 now, Joshua is around 33 I think, Usyk around 36, Wilder around 38, Artur [Beterbiev] 39 next week. Why are we losing time?
“People need to see Joshua vs Fury, Fury vs Joshua. Need to see Joshua vs Wilder and I hope Wilder comes back.
“I want to see Artur [Beterbiev] and [Dmitry] Bivol and I want to see the result of Artur and Bivol against [Jay] Opetaia.
“If I ask you give me 20 or 30 names of athletes in America, half of them In the 70s and 80s you would have said boxer. Now, give me a name…”
Which fights are planned for 2024?
So what are the fights that Turki Alalshikh specifically wants to make in 2024 and beyond? He is clear about his plans.
“We want to see Fury vs Usyk and the rematch between Fury and Usyk. And after that we want to see Tyson Fury against Ngannou – all the people want to see it. And we want to see, if Fury wins, Fury against Joshua, if Joshua wins.
“If Usyk wins, maybe we have a chance to have the third fight. And even if Usyk wins, the people still want to see Tyson against Joshua. This is what we want to deliver to the market. We close a lot of things about this.”