Amir Khan says Pakistan PM Imran Khan will attend Saudi Arabia fight

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Amir Khan and Neeraj Goyat will fight in Jeddah on July 12. (Supplied by Super Boxing League)
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Amir Khan and Neeraj Goyat will fight in Jeddah on July 12. (Courtesy of Super Boxing League)
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The fight will take place in Jeddah on July 12. (Supplied)
Updated 10 June 2019

Amir Khan says Pakistan PM Imran Khan will attend Saudi Arabia fight

  • Amir Khan will face Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat in Jeddah on July 12
  • The boxer told a press conference that he hopes the fight will help build bridges between India and Pakistan

LONDON: British Pakistani boxer Amir Khan said Thursday that Prime Minister Imran Khan would attend his boxing match in Saudi Arabia next month .
Amir Khan will face Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat in Jeddah on July 12 in a fight that is being billed as an attempt to build bridges between the South Asian rival nations.
“We wrote to the Pakistani prime minister (and) he jumped to the occasion and he said he was going to be at the fight,” Amir Khan told Arab News at a press conference in London.

Promoters also said they hoped Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would also attend - something many would consider unlikely after an escalation in hostilities in the disputed Kashmir region earlier this year. 
However, Imran Khan's government has repeatedly said it would be open to talks with India.
Khan also said that an invitation would also be sent to the British Prime Minister as well.
"I am a British fighter, but, as you know, I am British-Pakistani and it’s great to have that backing," Khan told Arab News. 
Amir Khan met the prime minister in October last year during a visit to Pakistan just two months after the cricket legend turned politician took office.
Khan’s fight against the former NMA fighter Goyat, will take place at the King Abdullah Sports City during Saudi Seasons.

When asked why Saudi Arabia by Arab News, Khan said: "First of all, I saw the world boxing series being held there and also been there for pilgrimage and visited a lot of cities and I thought it would be amazing one day, especially with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Jeddah Season, to support more events in Saudi Arabia," he said.
Khan added that the deal was finalized within a week, which "shows that many cultures in the Middle East are trying to move into sports and they have now got to the bottom of it."
Answering the same question, Goyat's manager, Ricky Mann, said: "As you know history has shown the two countries (India and Pakistan) are very hostile, so going to a neutral venue like Saudi Arabia makes it the best of both worlds." 
Khan is also setting up a few Amir Khan academies in Saudi Arabia, which has come within the package of the fighting deal.
"Hopefully, we should be opening a few Amir Khan Foundation academies and promoting boxing among the next generation of Saudi fighters and the local talent to support them and give them the opportunity," Khan said.
Super Boxing League consultant Asif Vali said Amir has already set up successful academies in Pakistan three years ago. 
"Now with this new opportunity with Saudi Arabia, we are not only setting up academies, we are also setting up gyms as academies," Vali said. 
He added that "eight will go live in the next few weeks and then 120 over a three-year plan, as well as an educational program, for girls, boys, males, and females and we're going to teach them how boxing helps in building education and building themselves outside the ring as well."
The former unified world welterweight champion has visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions, including for pilgrimages.

Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh in November, he said he wanted to open a boxing academy in the Kingdom.
At Thursday’s press conference, he reflected on his experiences in Saudi Arabia.
“When I was there last, it had all changed. I started seeing women not wearing head scarves. Women were out driving," Khan said. “They had a huge concert where everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. I'd never seen that side of Saudi Arabia before.
“Maybe now they are changing to make it that new place where people can enjoy themselves and it's fair for women.”
Khan also thanked the Saudi government and General Sports Authority for giving giving him the opportunity to fight in Jeddah.
Khan stepped onto the world boxing stage at just 17 when he won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In April, the 32 year old lost to WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
Goyat, from Chandigarh, has helped establish professional boxing in India.

Pogba shines as United thrash Leeds

Updated 18 July 2019

Pogba shines as United thrash Leeds

  • Red Devils bounce back after an unconvincing win over Perth Glory

PERTH: Paul Pogba shined as an under-pressure Manchester United stepped up their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of old rivals Leeds on Wednesday.

United had faced criticism after an unconvincing 2-0 victory over a depleted Perth Glory on the weekend.

In a much-needed tonic, the Red Devils clinically dismantled Leeds, who have high hopes of returning to the English Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Pogba, who has been linked with a move to Juventus and Real Madrid, starred in United's dominant first-half and was part of a pretty chain of passing to set up 17-year-old Mason Greenwood's first senior goal in the seventh minute.

Greenwood's energetic performance has the teenager in the frame for the Premier League opener against Chelsea on Aug. 11, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

"He's got a chance. He's more than capable and he'll always be there in and around the box creating chances," he told reporters after the match.

Moments later, a powerful strike from Pogba was well saved by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

But it was only a matter of time before United broke through with a moment of magic in the 27th minute from Marcus Rashford, a livewire in the first half.

After a wondrous dribble past the lead-foot defense, the 21-year-old expertly tapped it past Casilla.

Solskjaer changed his entire lineup at halftime in a repeat of Saturday's match against Perth.

United continued to dictate, with Phil Jones scoring a thumping header from a corner kick in the 51st minute.

Anthony Martial rounded out a spectacular performance in the 68th minute by converting a penalty after Tahith Chong was taken down in the box.

The first clash in eight years between the one-time bitter enemies fizzled out, but a near capacity Perth Stadium crowd of 55,000 underlined the rivalry's stature.

Romelu Lukaku was once again absent fuelling speculation he had been dropped from the squad amid reports he was close to securing a move to Inter Milan.

United said the Belgian suffered a knock at training.

"He's missed two chances to play 45 minutes and at this stage of the season it's important to get everyone fit, so hopefully he'll be available soon," Solskjaer said.

Illness kept out goalkeeper David de Gea, who is reportedly close to signing a new five-year deal with United in excess of £350,000 ($435,000) a week.

United will have further pre-season games against Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25, while Leeds will head to Sydney to face Western Sydney Wanderers.