Saudi Arabia hosts first professional boxing championship
RIYADH, September 29 (CIC) – Saudi Arabia made history on Friday night by hosting its first professional boxing match.
The nail-biting event ended in the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight newcomer Callum Smith emerge victorious against WBA world super-middleweight champion George Groves with a spectacular seventh-round knockout. The match drew thousands to Al-Jawhara Stadium at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
With the win, Groves took home the Muhammad Ali Trophy and $10 million in prize money.
Smith, 28, felled the 30-year-old Groves with a stunning left hook followed by a body shot that brought Groves’s 16-month rein as champion to an end.
Smith was joined by his three brothers in the ring, two of which, Paul and Stephen, are each former British boxing champions.
The fight marked the first time a professional boxing match has ever been held in Saudi Arabia, yet the match was widely appreciated by the many Saudis in attendance.
The crowd’s reaction confirmed the Kingdom’s desire to host more such international events.
The super-middleweight title fight followed an undercard bout which featured Saudi fighter and local favourite Zuhayr Al-Qahtani, who improved his perfect five-fight record with a four-round decision victory over Mohamed Mahmoud.
The milestone event was the result of an agreement signed in London between World Boxing Super Series organiser and owner, Comosa AG, and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia. The match has created a new interest for developing the sport within the Kingdom according to former Yemeni-British boxing great “Prince” Naseem Hamed, also in attendance.
“Professional boxing has never come to Saudi Arabia before and it’s a blessing that things have opened up in the country like this,” said Hamed.
“We’ve been waiting for boxing to break into Arab countries for a long, long time. Hopefully this will just be the start of things to come.”