x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai land of gold for boxing promoter of Khan-Alexander fight

Golden Boy Promotions determined to strike deal for emirate to host IBF welterweight championship bout, writes Gary Meenaghan.

DUBAI // The chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions is determined to strike a multi-year deal with Dubai and has made his top priority securing for the emirate the rights to the IBF welterweight championship bout between Devon Alexander and Amir Khan.
Richard Schaefer arrived in Dubai on Sunday from Los Angeles and has spent the past two days meeting with "high-level government officials".
He said he is hopeful a deal can be agreed to host one major fight in the city each year, starting with a December 7 match between Alexander and Khan.
"The time is here and I would love to find a way to bring this fight to Dubai," Schaefer said.
"It would be a historical event.
"I am talking to the right people and these conversations are not just about a one-off fight, but a long-term relationship. In the past, people have tried to bring boxing to Dubai, but have gone with the wrong people.
"For Golden Boy, this is not about coming here and trying to leave with a bunch of money and burning bridges. It's about building for the future."
Alexander, the reigning IBF welterweight champion, is reluctant to fight in Dubai because Khan, a British-born Muslim, would be expected to enjoy majority support.
Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's manager, said recently it would take "crazy money" to close the deal.
Schaefer said he believes the money being offered by the emirate will be enough to secure hosting rights.
"I will find out in the coming days and weeks on what exactly can be done, but I am optimistic," he said. "In the United States and other places, when they hear Dubai, they think there is unlimited amounts of money, but that is not what this is about. It's about putting together a deal that is fair for all concerned parties and that's why I am here.
"For me to make the long trip from Los Angeles to Dubai - especially in the middle of summer - is a sign of my good intentions. I am very encouraged and the time is right. There is definitely a strong interest and now we just have to get it done."
Other potential host cities include London and Las Vegas, but the idea of fighting in Dubai appeals to Golden Boy, which has the ability to broadcast the bout to 160 countries.
Negotiations will continue this week, but Schaefer said he expects it could take "weeks or months" before a decision is confirmed.
"We recently got our boxing license in the UK, so we have options, but first priority now is Dubai to see if we can get something done," he said.
"That is my No 1 priority and I am hopeful we can. The time is now. I would like to do something different and this is different. For me, it is a case of sooner rather than later, but the ball is in Dubai's court."
Golden Boy was founded by former six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya.
His partners include several other fighters, including Bernard Hopkins.
gmeenaghan@thenational.ae
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