‘Arabian Warrior’ Zuhayr Al-Qahtani excited to fight in homeland of Saudi Arabia

Zuhayr Al-Qahtani is ready to make history when he becomes the first professional Saudi Arabian boxer to fight in the Kingdom. (MTK Global)
Updated 14 September 2018
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‘Arabian Warrior’ Zuhayr Al-Qahtani excited to fight in homeland of Saudi Arabia

  • Zuhayr Al-Qahtani is ready to make history when he becomes the first professional Saudi Arabian boxer to fight in the Kingdom
  • The identity of Triple Z’s opponent at super-lightweight will not be confirmed until next week

LONDON: Zuhayr Al-Qahtani is ready to make history when he becomes the first professional Saudi Arabian boxer to fight in the Kingdom and has warned fans “not to blink” as he promises to bring entertainment to Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City on September 28.
Al-Qahtani has been confirmed on the undercard of the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final between George Groves and Callum Smith, realizing a dream of competing in his birthplace he’s held since he first picked up a pair of gloves in his teens.
The identity of Triple Z’s opponent at super-lightweight will not be confirmed until next week but the 29-year-old has promised to put on a show in Jeddah as he builds for a shot at the Asian title next year.
When asked by Arab News as to what the crowd should expect, he replied: “The rise of the Arabian Warrior. This is the beginning. I’m ready to make history. I only bring excitement to my fights, they’re never boring. Keep your eyes open and try not to blink.
“Given the level I’ve been training at, I don’t think any fighter, anyone, can beat me over four rounds so I’m not really worried about who they put me with.
“Without trying to sound cocky, I do believe unless the guy runs around, he will get stopped. If my opponent decides to be eager, he’ll stay in the middle and get knocked out 100 percent.
“The fans like to watch a gladiator in action and I am that gladiator, I’m a crowd pleaser.”
The south London-based fighter, whose professional record stands at 4-0, has felt a mixture of excitement and nerves since learning he will be competing in his home country. He joked he could sell out the 62,000-capacity stadium on his own, such has been volume of ticket requests he’s received from family members and friends in the Kingdom and across the region.
But one family member who will not be there is the person who’s been the biggest inspiration to him throughout his career – his mother, who refuses to watch any of his fights due to her finding them too violent.
When Al-Qahtani was competing at the 2010 Asian Games with no financial support for travel or accommodation, she gave him money and all he achieves he puts down to her guidance. She will also be the last person he speaks to before he steps into the ring as part of his traditional pre-fight routine.
“She’s so happy for me. She’s calling everyone up, saying ‘my son is boxing on this day you better watch it.’ She’s over the moon,” he said.
“In my early career I boxed at the Asian Games in 2010 and no one supported me and my mum pulled out $3,000 from her own pocket to help me at the Games, to help me pursue my goal.
“That opened the way for me. My mum was a spark in my life, and she sparked my potential. Where I am now and where I’ll be in my future fights will be because of my mum.
“I’ll call her before the fight and say, ‘I’m about to get started’ and she prays for me and says, ‘God bless you my son, you have worked hard and you will get what you want.’”
Although fighting in Jeddah is a dream come true, for Al-Qahtani it is just the next step on his mission to become a champion of Asia, and then the world. And while he admits it is a huge buzz being part of such a massive event as the Groves-Smith fight, the main feeling is of envy and determination that he can one day headline a bout of this magnitude.
“I have an ideology, every dream comes true, if you pursue it. Either way, if it wasn’t on George Groves’ undercard, I would have my own undercard, I would be the main event.
“The only inspiration I get is jealously — I want to be the main event. I’m waiting for the day when you see Zuhayr Al-Qahtani v (Vasyl) Lomachenko or (Terence) Crawford or whoever. When I sleep, I shadow box. I’m so excited, I can’t wait.”


Roger Federer, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova stunned as Rafael Nadal powers into Australian Open quarters

Updated 20 min 23 sec ago
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Roger Federer, Angelique Kerber, Maria Sharapova stunned as Rafael Nadal powers into Australian Open quarters

MELBOURNE: Defending champion Roger Federer was stunned by fiery Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who ended his bid for a record seventh Australian Open Sunday on a day of upsets that also saw second seed Angelique Kerber crash out.
The Swiss master caved in under the energy and pressure of a man 17 years his junior to tumble out 6-7 (11/13), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in the last 16 on Rod Laver Arena.
World number two Kerber was also sensationally bundled out by a woman playing the event for the first time, with American Danielle Collins humiliating the Wimbledon champion 6-0, 6-2 in under an hour.
The man Federer beat in last year’s final, sixth seed Marin Cilic, was also sent packing by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who now plays Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals.
Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Shaparova was another to fall, but there was no such drama for a rampant Rafael Nadal who powered into the last eight with a straight sets win over Tomas Berdych.

Federer was gunning for a 21st Grand Slam title but had a battle on his hands from off against the 20-year-old, touted among the new generation of young stars as a future champion.
“I’m the happiest man on Earth right now, I cannot describe it,” said the 14th seed, who is the first Greek in history to reach the quarter-finals of a Slam.
“I’ve been idolising him (Federer) since the age of six. It was a dream come true for me just being on Rod Laver facing him. Winning at the end, I can’t describe it.”
The Swiss great was gracious in defeat, saying “I lost to a better player who was playing very well, who hung in there and stayed calm.”
Wimbledon winner and 2016 champion Kerber, the bookies’ favorite along with Serena Williams after defending champion Caroline Wozniacki was ousted early, was no match for Collins, ranked 35 in the world.

Collins is little known after playing much of her tennis in the US college system and was making her debut in the main draw at Melbourne Park. She had never won a Grand Slam match before this year.
“I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this but I tell you, it’s going to keep happening,” said the 25-year-old. “I better have many more of these.”
Men’s second seed Nadal, returning from foot surgery, barrelled past former world number four Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) as he stays on track for an 18th Grand Slam title.
“I always say the same when I am back for injury,” said the Spaniard. “I don’t expect negative or positive things. I just try to do my work every day and just be with (the) right attitude every single day.”
He will play world number 39 Frances Tiafoe for a place in the semifinals after the young American celebrated his 21st birthday by grinding his way past Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (1/7), 7-5.
Hometown hero Ashleigh Barty also made the last eight after muscling past Sharapova and will next meet Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova claimed her biggest scalp since completing a drugs ban in 2017 when she rolled Wozniacki in round three and looked on track to carry the momentum forward.
The 30th seed won the first set but then fell to pieces, eventually succumbing 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“I knew I had to keep chipping away — in a sense, trust the work we’ve done. I know that I can match it with the best,” said Barty, seeded 15.
Next up for the diminutive 22-year-old is Kvitova, who beat Barty in the final of the warm-up Sydney International this month.
The two-time Wimbledon champion beat 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1 to match her best performance at a major since being slashed in a terrifying attack at her home in late 2016 that left her with lasting nerve damage in her fingers.