• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s Next Big Sports Target: Boxing, With Joint Venture Worth $5B

  • The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is focusing on boxing as its next large-scale sports target.
  • The latest ambitions intersect with still-incomplete efforts in other sports, as well as human rights issues.
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Despite still being a long way from fully realizing a bold vision to unify men’s pro golf and top-flight tennis, Saudi Arabian officials are already locking in on their next big sports target: boxing.

The country’s Public Investment Fund—the key backer behind LIV Golf and also a potential merger between the ATP and WTA—is now in discussions with multiple entities in boxing on a possible joint venture to similarly bring greater cohesion to that sport, according to Reuters.

The effort to create a new boxing league reportedly involves major promoters such as Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions, and it is designed as a means to bring greater prominence, fan appeal, and revenue to boxing—which has encountered numerous struggles over the past decade, including from the rise of mixed martial arts. The new joint venture could carry a valuation of as much as $5 billion, Reuters reported.

“There is big opportunity in boxing,” Turki al-Sheikh, chair of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, told ESPN earlier this year. “But you must improve the market. You must fix all the problems.”

Even before this latest initiative, Saudi Arabia has hosted several top-tier fights, most recently when Oleksandr Usyk (above) beat Tyson Fury in Riyadh last month to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 25 years.

A Larger Strategy

Saudi Arabia’s aggressive moves in sports have taken on multiple dimensions, with some of the activities seen as a means toward establishing greater economic diversity beyond the country’s stronghold in oil, and as a way to help create a new image for the country. But given the widespread criticism Saudi Arabia has received for its record on human rights, these efforts have also been widely viewed as sportswashing.

Key parts of the country’s sports strategy also remain decidedly incomplete. A potential union between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour is still uncertain, more than a year after it was first announced. And the tie-up between the tennis tours, actively discussed for more than six months, is similarly bogged down by a variety of deal points.

In addition to its developing activities in golf and tennis, the Saudi Pro League is also creating seismic waves in men’s pro soccer as a result of top-tier player salaries and transfer fees that only a select few elsewhere in the world can match. 

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Teoscar Hernandez Wins $1 Million at Home Run Derby

The Derby is one of the most lucrative skill contests in sports.
Jul 4, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium.

The $500 Million Juan Soto Question Lingers at MLB’s All-Star Game

Yankees superstar could attract second-largest player contract in U.S. team sports history.

Colombian Soccer Federation President Arrested in Copa Madness

The 71-year-old on the FIFA Council was arrested alongside his son.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

MLB Draft, ASG Highlight Teams’ Shifting Approach


Featured Today

Jan 7, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium.

Without Hard-Line Bans, Pro Athletes and Personnel Will Keep Betting on Sports

Penalties often aren’t stringent or consistent enough to deter banned behavior.
Oct 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goddell speaks during the Don Shula Celebration of Life at Hard Rock Stadium.
July 13, 2024

The NFL Is Confident It Can Overturn the Sunday Ticket Verdict

The league may have good reason to believe it can win.
July 8, 2024

NFLPA Report Cards Have Become the ‘Talk of the Locker Room’ Across..

NFLPA report cards have become the ‘talk of the locker room.’
July 7, 2024

The New College Sports Insiders Are Graphic Designers

Joe Tipton and Hayes Fawcett have become premier news-breakers on social media.

NBA and NHL Free Agency: Billions in New Deals Despite Economic Unrest

Rising revenues and salary caps are helping fuel a run of historic contracts.
June 24, 2024

Tiger’s Golf League Hits $500 Million Valuation Before First Swing

TGL will begin play in January 2025.
July 1, 2024

Bobby Bonilla Day: A Look at MLB’s Top Deferral Deals and Ohtani’s Pact

Well beyond Bobby Bonilla, many current and former MLB stars have their own lucrative deferrals.

TopSpin 2K25 Brings the Legends of Tennis to Your Living Room

2K sports is reviving a classic with TopSpin 2K25.
June 13, 2024

The ‘Big’ in Big 12 Could Soon Be Replaced With a Sponsor’s Name

Allstate is said to be in discussions about a deal with the Big 12.
June 13, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About the Schism Rocking Competitive Eating

The business story about hot dogs that you never knew you needed.
June 11, 2024

Breakthrough? Tiger Says PGA Tour and LIV Golf Are Eyeing ‘End Game’

Woods called a recent meeting ‘productive.’
June 10, 2024

Salt Lake City’s $4B Olympics Price Tag Could Be a Bargain: Here’s Why

Utah is the preferred bidder for the 2034 Games.