x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Amir Khan's promoter gets 'serious' about boxing bout in Dubai

Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, expected to begin negotiations with investors in UAE on Monday about December 7 fight, writes Gary Meenaghan.

British boxer Amir Khan, shown here training at his gym in west England, is hoping Dubai will host his upcoming IBF welterweight championship bout against Devon Alexander. Paul Ellis / AFP
British boxer Amir Khan, shown here training at his gym in west England, is hoping Dubai will host his upcoming IBF welterweight championship bout against Devon Alexander. Paul Ellis / AFP

DUBAI // Richard Schaefer, the chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, is confident Dubai's interest in hosting a title-fight between IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander and Amir Khan is legitimate, saying he would not fly across the globe unless he believed the emirate is serious about putting on the event.

Schaefer, who has made his skepticism regarding fights in this region known in the past, is expected to begin high-level negotiations with investors in the Emirates on Monday after flying out of the United States on Saturday.

Throughout the past decade, Dubai has been rumoured to be interested in hosting several high-profile fights without ever securing the deal. If the December 7 bout comes to fruition it will mark the first high-profile professional match in the UAE since Chris Eubank took on Camilo Alarcon at Dubai Aviation Club in 1997.

"I wouldn't be travelling all the way to Dubai unless this was serious," he told BoxingScene.com before departing the USA. "I'm going to see if we can stage this in Dubai. I will be having some high level meetings and we'll see."

The Alexander camp are said to be concerned about fighting in a country where Khan, the most prominent Muslim boxer in the world, would be sure to enjoy majority support.

"It is not Devon's first choice to fight in Dubai because he is the world champion," Schaefer added. "I can appreciate and understand that, but Team Alexander told me if the money is right, they will fight anywhere in the world. That's why I'm going, to see if the money is such that it would justify to do the fight in Dubai."

As well as the logistical requirements of hosting a world title-fight, television timings are said to be a concern. The emirate is between eight and 11 hours ahead of the United States, meaning either the fight will need to be held in the early hours of the morning in the UAE or face a delayed broadcast Stateside. Schaefer said that is one of the issues he will be working on while here.

"That will come down to money," he said. "If Dubai wants to have it at prime time Dubai and the money is such that it would justify prime time Dubai – then it would be prime time Dubai and delayed [in the US]. The other possibility is showing it prime time US."

Newspaper reports that Schaefer will meet with Eisa Al Dah, the Emirates' first professional boxer, are wide of the mark. When contacted by The National, Al Dah was unaware of Schaefer's trip to the Emirates.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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