Saudi Arabia's Abdulfatah Julaidan ready to make history in Jeddah fight

The history maker was in confident mood at Thursday's weigh-in. (Sela Sport)
Updated 28 September 2018

Saudi Arabia's Abdulfatah Julaidan ready to make history in Jeddah fight

  • 39-year-old set to be first Saudi Arabian boxer to fight professionally in the Kingdom.
  • Julaidan has fought only once so far — he is set to face Czech boxer Martin Kharbel.

JEDDAH: Abdulfatah Julaidan insists he is not fazed by the prospect of becoming the first Saudi Arabian boxer to compete in a professional bout in the Kingdom.
Jeddah-based Julaidan (1-0, 1 KO) will take on Czech fighter Martin Kharbel (2-9, 2KOs) in a hastily arranged bout on the undercard of the World Boxing Super Series Final on Friday.
Julaidan’s professional debut came just 12 days ago, a second round knockout of Daniel Botlik in the Netherlands.
He has had less than two weeks to prepare for his second fight but the 39-year-old says the offer to compete in his hometown was impossible to turn down.  
“The organizers called me less than a week ago told me they wanted another Saudi on the card,” Julaidan told Arab News.
“How could I say no? Fortunately, my first fight wasn’t too hard so I still feel in good shape.
“We only know only a little bit about my opponent. He is solid and more experienced than me but my gameplan is to go out and pressure him until I stop him.”
London-based Zuhayr Al-Qahtani is scheduled to fight later on the undercard at King Abdullah Sports City but Julaidan, in the night’s second contest, will be the first Saudi professional boxer to take to the ring in the Kingdom.
“This is like a dream come true. I never could have imagined fighting in my own country, in my hometown, at a venue like this. I will put it all on the line for my family and for Saudi Arabia. This is the biggest fight of my life.
“I want to put the Saudi name on the boxing map — that’s my real motivation. It will be an amazing feeling to go out there and once I’ve got the win, you will see how much it means to me.”
Julaidan’s trainer, Nettles Nasser, believes his fighter is a genuine trailblazer for the sport. The Palestinian, who used to train professional boxers in the US, is hoping that Friday’s event can inspire a new generation of fans and fighters in Saudi Arabia.
“He is a pioneer in the boxing game,” Nasser said.
“He’s 39 years old but he followed his dream and you can’t get higher than this. On a championship undercard in only his second fight. This is fairytale stuff.
“It takes a lot of balls to do what he did. No experience, no professional fights. He’s not an emotional guy but when he wins, it will mean everything.
“He’s going to go out there to inspire the young people in Saudi Arabia to box. Saudi Arabia traditionally only has eyes soccer but they have to have other sports. We can help make that change happen.”

Neymar limps off as Brazil draw with Nigeria

Updated 14 October 2019

Neymar limps off as Brazil draw with Nigeria

  • The 27-year-old’s return to Champions League action may now be delayed

SINGAPORE: Neymar limped off injured early on as Brazil played out a 1-1 friendly draw against a spirited Nigeria at the Singapore National Stadium on Sunday.

The five-time world champions fell behind in the first half, but Casemiro's equalizer early in the second period prevented a loss but then  Brazil were unable to leave Southeast Asia with a victory by wasting chances, after also being held by Senegal on Thursday.

Brazil started well, with Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino firing just wide in the third minute after a smart turn near the penalty spot.

However, Brazil were dealt a major blow when Neymar limped off in the 12th minute with what appeared to be a left thigh problem — the Paris Saint-Germain striker replaced by Bayern Munich’s Philippe Coutinho to bring a premature end to his 101st international appearance.

Neymar's return to Champions League action may now be delayed, with PSG facing Club Brugge on Oct. 22 after the world’s most expensive player missed the first two games through suspension.

“During the match he felt a muscle injury, so I took him off as a precaution,” Brazil coach Tite said.

“Neymar did not have a muscle issue before the match. I would never start a player if they had a hint of a problem like this, I would never pay that price,” Tite added of the 27-year-old, who has suffered a string of injuries since his move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.

“My career has taught me that I would never use a player if he was not in condition to play. It would be irresponsible of me to risk a player carrying an injury.”

Neymar will be disappointed he was unable to draw level with Brazil legend Ronaldo, who sits second in the country’s all-time scoring list behind Pele, on 62 international goals this week. But Nigeria provided resolute opposition by working hard to prevent the South Americans from forging many clear openings.

Gabriel Jesus, Firmino and Coutinho all went close for Brazil, but it was Nigeria who took the lead in the 35th minute when Joe Aribo burst through a gap in the South Americans' defence and skipped around Marquinhos before firing low past goalkeeper Ederson from close range.

The smart strike was the English-born player's second goal in two appearance for Nigeria after the Rangers midfielder scored on his debut against Ukraine last month.

A more determined Brazil needed just three minutes after the interval to draw level, however, as Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro slotted home after a Marquinhos header had rattled the crossbar following a well-worked corner.

Brazil ramped up the pressure as the match progressed, stretching the Nigeria defence with sharp passing and clever movement as Casemiro, Jesus and half-time substitute Richarlison all came close to giving their side the lead.

Tite's men poured forward in search of a winner with Coutinho guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity with five minutes remaining when the unmarked midfielder's weak effort was cleared off the line by Semi Ajayi.

"I thought it was a good match for us and we created plenty of chances but just could not get that second goal," Tite added. "We definitely missed Neymar's creativity after he went off."