‘Day of Reckoning’ in Riyadh set to reorder boxing’s heavyweight division

‘Day of Reckoning’ in Riyadh set to reorder boxing’s heavyweight division
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Updated 08 December 2023
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‘Day of Reckoning’ in Riyadh set to reorder boxing’s heavyweight division

‘Day of Reckoning’ in Riyadh set to reorder boxing’s heavyweight division
  • Several top-10 fighters will clash on Dec. 23, including Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua

RIYADH: Boxing’s heavyweight division is set for a major reordering when the “Day of Reckoning” takes place in Riyadh on Dec. 23, with a number of top-10 fighters vying for No. 1 status.

Leading the pack are Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, who may fight each other after their bouts this month. A bout between the two has long been mooted but negotiations have broken down several times over the past few years.

They are on the same card and seeking to become the No. 1 contender for the World Boxing Council title.

Should both win their respective bouts, they will face each other for the right to challenge the winner of the undisputed heavyweight championship between WBC champion Tyson Fury and Unified Heavyweight Champion Oleksander Usyk that will take place in February in Riyadh.

Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC, recently outlined the stakes involved for Wilder and Joshua.

“We’ve been waiting and pushing and mediating and encouraging everyone to try to make this happen,” he told Sky Sports recently.

“When Wilder was champion there were a couple of occasions where Wilder-Joshua came very close. The WBC left that window without interfering with anything that could get in the way.”

Before that, there is the small matter of Wilder facing current IBF and WBO Intercontinental Champion Joseph Parker, a difficult opponent for anyone on any given night.

Parker, fresh from a knockout victory over Simon Kean at Riyadh’s “Battle of the Baddest” in October, is hoping to extend his winning streak and stake his own claim to the throne.

Meanwhile, standing in Joshua’s way is Otto Wallin, who is ranked nine, and has only lost to Fury.

Wallin and Joshua faced off as amateurs over a decade ago — with the latter winning both in 2010 and 2011. It could be third time’s the charm for Wallin who, since then, may have developed the skill — and the will — to finally overcome Joshua.

Wallin is currently ranked No. 2 in the IBF heavyweight rankings, with rumors of that title becoming vacant next year. Should this happen, Joshua will wish to leapfrog Wallin to face No. 1-ranked Filip Hrgovic for the IBF title.

In Riyadh, Hrgovic will face the Australian Mark De Mori who has only been beaten twice in 45 fights. This fight is crucial for Hrgovic, who needs to keep his No. 1 IBF spot to challenge for the title next year. He has his work cut out for him as De Mori has an almost 90 percent knockout rate.

Daniel Dubois, who lost to Usyk in August, takes on the unbeaten knockout artist Jarrell Miller. Dubois lost the fight against Usyk after a contentious “low blow” ruling saw the Brit lose his momentum against the Ukrainian.

Russia’s Arslanbek Makhmudov against Germany’s Agit Kabayel could be the sleeper fun fight of the night. Makhmudov, the current WBC-NABF champion, has been steadily climbing the rankings, and will hope to defeat the unbeaten Kabayel, the EBU heavyweight champion.

Rounding out the heavyweights on the card is Frank Sanchez who will take on Junior Fa. This is a crucial bout for Fa, who has lost two of his last three fights. He faces a challenging task ahead in the form of the unbeaten Sanchez, the WBC Continental Americas heavyweight champion.

“In itself it is a natural WBC elimination tournament,” said Sulaiman. “You have Wilder, No. 1 Joshua, you have Parker, you have Otto Wallin, all those are highly ranked in the WBC. After Dec. 23 we’re going to see a different picture in the rankings.”

Looming further on the horizon is one of boxing’s newest and hottest properties: Francis Ngannou. The Cameroonian has catapulted himself into the WBC top 10 by almost beating Fury. A rematch is possible, according to Fury’s promoter Frank Warren.


Karachi Kings defeat Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings defeat Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
Updated 45 min 49 sec ago
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Karachi Kings defeat Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings defeat Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
  • Karachi bowlers Mir Hamza, Hassan Ali return figures of 3/28, 3/30 to dismiss Zalmi for 154
  • Zalmi skipper Babar Azam’s 72-run knock comes to naught as his team suffers second PSL 9 loss

ISLAMABAD: Backed by impressive bowling performances from Mir Hamza and Hassan Ali, Karachi Kings defeated Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

The Kings won the toss and elected to field first against Zalmi in the sixth match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 tournament. The decision proved to be the correct one as Hamza and Ali dealt severe blows to the Zalmi batters, dismissing the “Yellow Storm” for 154 runs.

Skipper Babar Azam scored 72 runs off 51 balls but could not find ample support from the middle order as Ali and Hamza kept picking wickets one by one. Rovman Powell scored 39 from 25 balls while Asif Ali scored 23 off 16 balls to lend some support to Azam.

“I think we scored less, we lost few wickets in power play,” Azam said at the post-match press conference. “You have to build partnerships and that’s what we missed today.”

Kings bowlers Hamza returned figures of 3/28 while Ali finished with 3/30. Daniel Sams returned figures of 2/28 while spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik took one wicket each.

The Kings chased the target in 16.5 overs at the loss of three wickets. Skipper Shan Masood scored 16 runs while Muhammad Akhlaq made 24 runs. James Vince and Keiron Pollard remained unbeaten on 38 and 49 runs respectively to guide their team to victory.

Zalmi bowlers Luke Wood returned figures of 2/20 while Waqar Salamkheil finished with 1/54 from his four overs.

Peshawar Zalmi remain at the bottom of the table with two losses from as many games while Karachi Kings have moved up to fourth place with a win and a loss from their two matches.


Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief

Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief
Updated 21 February 2024
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Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief

Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief
  • Mohammed Al-Mandil, Saudi Hockey Federation president, and Tayyab Ikram, International Hockey Federation president, discussed ways to develop the game

RIYADH: Ways to enhance, promote and develop hockey in the Kingdom were discussed by Saudi Hockey Federation President Mohammed Al-Mandil and International Hockey Federation President Tayyab Ikram on Wednesday.
Al-Mandil welcomed Ikram at the SHF’s headquarters in Riyadh during a meeting that was also attended by Abdulellah Almymoon, SHF’s executive director.
The president of the Saudi Hockey Federation presented a token of appreciation to the IHF’s chief and thanked him for his efforts in the growth and support of field hockey internationally, and in appreciation of his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Al-Mandil also confirmed the federation’s commitment to developing this Olympic sport at the local level through its sports activities, and through cooperative agreements with schools and universities to create a generation passionate about the sport.
He said that SHF’s strategy was to include hockey as a sport in collaboration with Saudi sports clubs to enhance competition and integration within society.


Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile

Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile
Updated 21 February 2024
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Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile

Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile
  • Turkish Super Lig club announced on X that they had ‘amicably parted ways’ with Emirhan Delibas
  • 21-year-old player denies that the Bumble profile is his, and labels account ‘fake’

BEIRUT: Promising Turkish footballer Emirhan Delibas had his contract terminated with top-tier club Besiktas after he was reportedly discovered to have created a profile on the Bumble dating app.
Images circulated across social media showed that Delibas’s age on the verified Bumble account was 24, meanwhile his age as per Besiktas’s records is 21. The profile also showed the player posing in the club’s jersey.
News around Beskitas terminating the contract of their academy player surfaced late on Monday shortly after the blue-ticked account was spotted and went viral across social media.
The Super Lig club announced on X that they had “amicably parted ways” with Delibas, who has denied that the profile is his and labelled the account “fake.”
The rising star made two senior appearances before leaving but had progressed through Besiktas’ youth academy and represented them at various age levels.
“We have parted ways with professional football player Emirhan Delibas by mutual agreement. We wish Emirhan Delibas success in his future career and present it to the public,” the club said on X without announcing the reasons.
Turkish media reports said that the player posted on his Instagram: “I reject the slanders made by fake accounts and would like to state that my loyalty to my team cannot be questioned.”
Commenting over the incident, Emirati football fan and lawyer Salem Al-Hammadi told Arab News that nowadays a footballer’s behavior, on and off the field, was related — and important.
“A player’s behavior is linked to his contract on the field through his commitment to training and performance, and off the field, if he commits to a healthy lifestyle, through having healthy food and not staying up late,” Al-Hammadi said.
A player influenced fans and the club’s reputation, and this imposed an obligation on footballers not to behave in a way that could harm their club’s reputation, he said.
“This is what we have noticed through political problems, for example. All players’ actions off the pitch are monitored by their fans (on social media) and have a direct impact. So, players must pay good attention to their behavior, and clubs have to include all matters in the contracts,” Al-Hammadi said.
Meanwhile, retired Lebanese footballer and coach Ibrahim Hassan said that when he played football in the 1970s and 1980s social media didn’t exist, so such matters did not impact players or clubs.
“Nowadays, any tiny detail matters and it could strain the relationship between a footballer and his club or fans. It’s true that footballers are human beings, but eventually they are considered public figures who need to be attentive, as any unacceptable or misbehavior on social media could be devastating … anything they post or do could jeopardize their contracts,” said Hassan, who recalled a number of incidents involving footballers who were terminated or punished for supporting Palestinians amid the Gaza war.
However, football fan Jad Maroun believes that players have a right to some “private and family life,” especially on social media. “Players are independent humans who also have the right to express their views and not be punished twice, by clubs or fans … I guess Besiktas’s decision to terminate the player is harsh and unfair,” Maroun said.
Delibas has also represented Turkiye at U-17, U-18 and U-19 level.


Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day
Updated 20 min 27 sec ago
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Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

RIYADH: Brazilian football star Neymar caught everyone’s attention when he appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes during preparations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day celebrations.

His club, Al-Hilal, shared photographs of the player wearing the thobe, shemagh and headband famously associated with the late King Abdulaziz, showcasing the general atmosphere ahead of the day.

Neymar was accompanied by Esteve Calzada, the CEO of Al-Hilal, and Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, along with other teammates, and trended on social media platform X dancing the Ardah, Saudi’s national dance.

The widely adopted white thobe in the Kingdom, favored for its comfort in the hot climate and desert setting, is complemented by other traditional attire for special occasions. This includes Oughal Almorudan, worn over the thobe, distinguished by its long arms and commonly donned during Ardah performances.

The 32-year-old recently returned to Riyadh to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injury during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers last October.

Founding Day is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year to commemorate its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

The Saudi Ministry of Sports recently announced the 21st round of the Roshan Professional League tournament would be named the Founding Round to symbolize the day’s significance.

Neymar is not the only player to celebrate Founding Day with his Saudi fans. Last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was shown wearing traditional attire along with his Al-Nassr teammates.


Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests

Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests
Updated 21 February 2024
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Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests

Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests
  • “Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible,” Hans-Joachim Watzke said
  • Fans had littered pitches with tennis balls and chocolate coins, attached bike locks to the goals and released toy cars onto the field to signal their opposition to the deal

FRANKFURT, Germany: The German Football League (DFL) on Wednesday dropped a huge cash injection deal with investors for a share of Bundesliga media revenues after widespread fan protests, a U-turn hailed by fanclubs as a “success” for supporters.
“Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible,” Hans-Joachim Watzke said in a statement on behalf of the DFL’s board.
Fans had littered pitches with tennis balls and chocolate coins, attached bike locks to the goals and released toy cars onto the field to signal their opposition to the deal.
The protests interrupted matches over the last weeks, leading referees to even threaten to abandon games.
In December, German clubs voted by a two-thirds majority in favor of the plan to “secure long-term and sustainable success.”
In exchange for eight percent of future TV rights, the league would receive an immediate investment, said to be close to one billion euros ($1.1 billion), to help market and promote the Bundesliga internationally.
Despite excellent stadium attendances and a lucrative domestic TV deal, international interest in the Bundesliga lags behind that of England’s Premier League or Spain’s La Liga.
But Germany’s powerful fan clubs say the investor process lacked transparency and ignored supporters’ wishes.
German football has a notable commitment to fan control and involvement via a “50+1” rule which restricts the degree of influence an external investor can have over a club.
The rule is incredibly popular among German fans, many of whom value it more than success on the field.
Hailing Wednesday’s decision, fan group Unsere Kurve said the “comprehensive, but very peaceful and very creative protests were ultimately the key to success.”
German football was being tested by the protests, “even if a large majority are in favor of the necessity of the strategic partnership,” Watzke said.
“Fan groups are causing major clashes, which are increasingly jeopardizing game operations... and thus the integrity of the competition,” said Watzke, who also serves as CEO of Borussia Dortmund.
Under the circumstances, the completion of the deal “cannot be guaranteed,” he said, adding that the decision to drop the investor tie-up was unanimous.
A similar proposal which sought to sell off a higher percentage of the TV revenue for a larger fee failed to get the necessary majority when put to a vote in May last year.