x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Boxers Amir Khan and Devon Alexander set to face off in Dubai

Khan's promoter has told The Daily Mail talks are underway for what would be biggest headline fight in UAE history, writes Gary Meenaghan.

Amir Khan, left, would be one of the biggest names to fight in the Emirates, if the bout against Devon Alexander goes ahead. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Amir Khan, left, would be one of the biggest names to fight in the Emirates, if the bout against Devon Alexander goes ahead. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

DUBAI // A landmark dust-up in the desert has drawn a step closer after it emerged former four-time world champion Amir Khan is hoping to tap into the Middle East’s burgeoning boxing market.

Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy promotions, was on Sunday reported as saying he is in discussions with UAE authorities about bringing a proposed fight between Khan and Devon Alexander, the IBF world welterweight champion, to Dubai this December.

“We have opened discussions with the ruling family of the Emirates, who have made it very clear that they are keen to put on a major boxing event,” Schaefer reportedly told The Daily Mail.

If the 26 year old defeats his American opponent, it is expected he will be rewarded with a multimillion dollar title-shot with Floyd Mayweather, the undefeated WBC welterweight champion, next spring.

“This is very exciting for Amir and all of us,” Schaefer said.

“If he defeats Devon, preferably in style, the next step for him would be against Floyd.

"Amir needs one fight at welterweight, along with a title, to set up the match with Floyd.

"He is getting that chance against Devon, who has agreed the fight. We will be finalising and signing the contracts in the next couple of weeks.”

Khan, of British Pakistani descent, is keen to fight in the Emirates where he has family, while Dubai officials view the Muslim world’s most prominent boxer as an ideal headline act to promote the sport to the region’s growing fanbase.

The fight is not scheduled to take place until December 7, a result of Khan’s recent wedding and his obligation to observe the Holy Month of Ramadan this summer.

It is understood Schaefer will visit the emirate next month to analyse potential venues.

“This promises to be a tremendous opportunity for us and for boxing,” he said.

It is not the first time the UAE has been linked with a high-profile title fight.

Mayweather, Khan and Filipino Manny Pacquiao have all been rumoured to be in negotiations regarding fights in the Emirates in recent years, yet none have materialised.

Tam Khan, chief executive of Dubai-based Tamari Promotions and no relation to Amir, said this latest proposed fight has “more legs than previous ones” because of the boxer’s strong ties to the country. In 2008, the former Olympic silver medallist helped promote a commercial tower in Ajman while visiting family in the UAE.

If December’s bout comes to fruition it will mark the region’s first high-profile professional match since Chris Eubank took on Camilo Alarcon at Dubai’s tennis stadium in 1997.

In 2008, Michael Moorer knocked out fellow American Shelby Gross in the first round at Sheikh Rashid Hall in Dubai. It was the three-time heavyweight champion Moorer’s last fight.

Mike Tyson was also set to fight Evander Holyfield in Abu Dhabi four years ago, but that never happened.

Meanwhile, Dubai World Trade Centre is expected to host the Emirates’ first world championship boxing bout on June 28 when Xiong Zhao Zhong of China defends his WBC Straw-weight belt against Denver Cuello of the Philippines.

Viable Venue Options

Dubai World Trade Centre

The Aviation Club

The Sevens stadium

Mina A’ Salam

Habtoor Grand Resort

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE and @gmeenaghan @gmeenaghan