JEDDAH: Somali-born Briton Ramla Ali won the first professional women’s boxing match held in Saudi Arabia with a spectacular first-round knock-out of Crystal Garcia Nova on Saturday.
Just seconds into the fight, after already connecting with heavy shots to the head and body, Ali sent Nova’s gumshield flying with a fierce right that slammed into the Dominican fighter’s jaw.
“I feel like I need to go back and do some more pads. I didn’t really get out of first gear,” said the 32-year-old at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, adding: “It’s cool to get the stoppage.”
Ali, a former refugee from war in Somalia and fighting at super-bantamweight, now stands at 7-0 in her professional career as she moves toward an expected world title attempt.
Before the fight, she said she hoped to be an inspiration in Saudi Arabia as she led a boxing class in Jeddah for Saudi women and girls as young as 15.
“The organizers inviting myself to compete and allowing this fight to go ahead really shows you the cultural shift in the landscape that is happening in the region,” a press release quoted her as saying.
“I hope myself and my opponent, as well as the full card, competing in Saudi Arabia inspires future generations.
“Tonight was amazing, coming into this fight, some were referring to it as ‘the puncher versus the boxer’ because of her high knockout percentage ratio, but we wanted to take the fight to her (Garcia) and I’m delighted to come away victorious.
“Since I arrived in Saudi Arabia everyone has been so warm and welcoming, and tonight just adds to what has been an incredible experience.”
Saturday’s fight was on the undercard of the world heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and defending champion Oleksandr Usyk.
* With AFP