After failing to pull together the pieces for a world title bout featuring the British boxer Amir Khan, the UAE’s quest to make boxing a mainstream sport in the country has taken another hit.
Abu Dhabi’s first live professional boxing event – Thursday Night Fights at Yas Island – was scheduled to take place on Thursday and feature top international fighters as well as local and regional boxing stars, but it has been postponed to December 19.
The former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Danny Williams, the Morocco welterweight champion Said Ouali, as well as Dubai’s Mohammed Ali Bayat were to fight at Yas Island’s 5,000-seat du Forum.
The US promoters Lion Heart Boxing Productions said yesterday the boxing card has been pushed back.
“We have failed to do some things in terms of preparations and rules and regulations to organize the fights, so we need more time to work on it, but fights will surely go ahead on December 19,” said Edward Mendy, a spokesman for Lion Heart.
“All fighters are on board for December 19. One of them has reacted much more than others, but if that fighter pulls out, then we will replace him with a fighter of similar calibre.”
Bayat expressed frustration with the delay.
“This is very disappointing, I was looking forward to this fight,” said the cruiserweight, unbeaten in three fights. “I have been training every day so hard and today I get a call from the organizers that the fight is being postponed to December.
“All this hard work, focus and training were for nothing. This is very unprofessional and not acceptable. A boxing bout once fixed should be changed only if a boxer gets injured, not when the organizers feel like.”
Meanwhile, in the world heavyweight scene, Lennox Lewis has dismissed reports that he is preparing to make a comeback to fight one of the Klitschko brothers.
Lewis took to Twitter to insist he has no intention of stepping back in the ring at the age of 48. Lewis tweeted: “A hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question does NOT equal reality #NoComeback”, before adding: “I’m not stepping back in the ring but I AM looking for the next crop of new talent!”
Lewis’ response will kill off rumours he was preparing to accept a world record purse in excess of $100million (Dh367.3m) to provide the Klitschkos with some much-needed competition.
Wladimir Klitschko successfully defended his world title in Moscow last Saturday night with a routine victory over the widely regarded best available challenger, Alexander Povetkin.
Lewis last fought when he beat Vitali Klitschko in June 2003, and despite sporadic reports to the contrary, he has resisted the temptation to make a comeback.