Carl Froch says Saudi Arabia showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev could define careers

Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev will meet in the cruiserweight final of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah next month. Carl Froch believes it will be career-defining fight. (Getty)
Updated 15 April 2018

Carl Froch says Saudi Arabia showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev could define careers

  • Usyk and Gassiev to meet in Jeddah on May 11
  • Froch likens competition to the one that gave him chance to shine

LONDON: Carl Froch believes Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev can use the final of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah as a launchpad to stardom.
The retired super-middleweight entered a similar knockout competition in 2009 — one also overseen by Sauerland Promotions — as a fighter struggling for recognition and finished it having established himself as one of Britain’s greats.
And Froch is certain the same springboard effect could be felt by Usyk and Gassiev.
The pair fight for the IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC cruiserweight titles at King Abdullah Sports City on May 11 in what is being billed as one of the fights of the year. The winner will be $10 million richer, will unify the division and land the Ali Trophy. They could also take a step toward greatness.
“The Super Six was a real way to establish myself as one of the best super-middleweights ever,” Froch told Arab News. “Without that tournament, would I have fought Andre Ward and would I have fought Kessler and Abraham, under those circumstances? Probably not. It’s good for your legacy. After coming out of the Super Six, I was made a household name. I beat (Lucien) Bute, and then got the Kessler rematch, and then I got Groves I and Groves II. That was massive.
“In the Super Series the boys are getting paid really well, which is good. I don’t think the loser (of the final) is done any harm at all. They’ll check their bank balance after the final and think ‘That was worth doing.’ It’s a good format, a good structure, and it works.”
The World Boxer Super Series started at the quarterfinal stage and Usyk and Gassiev have both come through two tough fights to make it to the final in Saudi Arabia, particularly the semifinals when they faced unbeaten opponents. Usyk outpointed Mairis Briedis in a slugfest and then Gassiev produced one of the punches of his career to stop Yunier Dorticos. “You’ve got guaranteed fights against top-level fighters,” said Froch. “All the promotion, publicity and profile, the marketing that goes with it, the production, for the television. We did a Fight Camp 360, building up, a little series. To get the exposure on camera, and then on fight night going in there, it’s all really, really good experience for you. You’re fighting the best as well, the best in the division. It is good, mentality-wise. If you keep winning, you know the opportunity is there to get fights, to fight the best.”
The super-middleweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series caught the imagination of the British public because it involved two of their high-profile fighters in George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. The cruiserweight version, on the other hand, has broader appeal and will serve up the year’s most significant fight.
“It’s one of those divisions that’s stuck in the middle, between light-heavyweight and heavyweight,” Froch said. “They’re not quite big enough to be heavyweight. When David Haye was at cruiserweight, the world champion, he soon realized ‘I’m not going to make any money here’. He tried to become a heavyweight, just to make money and get some kind of legacy. Evander Holyfield did the same.
“If you’re stuck in that weight division: [the WBSS] is good for their earnings and for them to have something to look back on. It’s good for those that are involved. There’s some good fighters in the cruiserweight division, and the ones that are in this tournament.”

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.