Anthony Joshua set for Riyadh return in March

Anthony Joshua set for Riyadh return in March
With his third win in a row, Joshua is now in the driving seat to take part in several exciting fights. (AFP filephoto)
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Updated 02 January 2024
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Anthony Joshua set for Riyadh return in March

Anthony Joshua set for Riyadh return in March
  • British fighter, 34, last month defeated Otto Wallin at ‘Day of Reckoning’ in Saudi capital

RIYADH: Fresh from his statement victory against Otto Wallin at “Day of Reckoning” in Saudi Arabia last month, Anthony Joshua looks set to return to Riyadh in March.

Speaking to iFL TV at the weekend, his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing confirmed the 34-year-old British heavyweight’s return.

Joshua’s dominant performance against Wallin has been seen by many boxing fans and analysts as a return to form after several underwhelming wins.

Against the Swedish fighter, Joshua dictated the course of the fight, going on to clinically break Wallin down to get the knockout – all the while, barely breaking a sweat.

With his third win in a row, Joshua is now in the driving seat to take part in several exciting fights.

Croatian boxer Filip Hrgovic maintained his No. 1 spot in the IBF rankings following a second-round knockout of Australian fighter Mark De Mori, also at “Day of Reckoning.”

With that belt becoming vacant after the Tyson Fury/Oleksandr Usyk match, Joshua’s No. 2 ranking puts him in a perfect position to fight for the IBF World Championship. AJ has claimed he wants to be a three-time world champion, and this could provide a clear path to the title.

Francis Ngannou, the No. 10 WBC ranked heavyweight, is also circling Joshua, recently tweeting “#NgannouJoshua.” From a box-office perspective, such a match-up would make a lot of sense.

Mixed martial arts expert Ngannou has become a big-name attraction with huge box-office draw, having previously headlined “Battle of The Baddest” in the Kingdom.

Both have huge fanbases, both deliver knockout finishes, and both have had great experiences in Riyadh in the past few months.

Chinese boxer Zhilei Zhang, the WBO Interim Champion, is also a likely opponent having defended his title against Joe Joyce in September. Zhang previously lost to Joshua in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and will be hungry to avenge his amateur loss on the professional stage.

It is a terrific narrative with a title at stake that could put either fighter further in line for a world title opportunity.

Whoever the opponent, Joshua looks set to close out Riyadh Season with a bang.


Riyadh the ‘capital of world boxing,’ says promoter Frank Warren ahead of 5vs5 event

Riyadh the ‘capital of world boxing,’ says promoter Frank Warren ahead of 5vs5 event
Updated 55 min 24 sec ago
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Riyadh the ‘capital of world boxing,’ says promoter Frank Warren ahead of 5vs5 event

Riyadh the ‘capital of world boxing,’ says promoter Frank Warren ahead of 5vs5 event
  • Warren was joined by rival promoter Eddie Hearn and the fighters for the final press conference before Friday’s weigh-in

RIYADH: Boxing promoter Frank Warren on Thursday called Riyadh the “capital of world boxing” at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s “5vs5” event featuring the best fighters of the Queensberry and Matchroom stables.

Warren was joined by rival promoter Eddie Hearn and the fighters for the final press conference before Friday’s weigh-in and the main event at the Kingdom Arena in the Saudi capital.

Both emphasized the importance of the fight card and praised the Kingdom’s hosting of the event.

On his boxer Malik Zanad’s fight against Russia’s Dmitry Bivol, Warren said: “We have here two undefeated boxers, as you know. We lost a great fight (Fury's loss to Usyk), but I think we now have another great fight.”

He continued: “We have (Malik) Zanad, a man hungry for victory, used to boxing away from home; he went to Australia and defeated Gerard Pamplon, he is facing Bivol, who I consider one of the best boxers, with a record of 22 wins and no losses.

“Both have perfect records, but obviously, one of them will lose this fight, and I have often seen last-minute substitutes come in, seize the moment, and win the title.”

Libyan fighter Zanad agreed. 

“I fight because I strive for victory, I thank everyone for this opportunity, and you will see a performance in this fight that will make you say I could have been a world champion a long time ago, but now is the opportunity to become a world champion, and I will become a world champion soon, inshallah, I will achieve that,” he said.

Bivol was more philosophical about his chances.

“It depends on how the fight goes, I may need to adapt and change, this is professional boxing, and you must be able to change your style, starting from the training phase, to make it easier in the ring,” he said.

“In the first round, the fight may be tactical, and in the second round, it may become more aggressive. You have to be ready for all possibilities, and I am prepared for everything,” he added.


Paqueta to stay in Brazil squad ahead of Copa America as he fights spot-fixing charges in England

Paqueta to stay in Brazil squad ahead of Copa America as he fights spot-fixing charges in England
Updated 30 May 2024
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Paqueta to stay in Brazil squad ahead of Copa America as he fights spot-fixing charges in England

Paqueta to stay in Brazil squad ahead of Copa America as he fights spot-fixing charges in England
  • He was charged with misconduct on May 23 and faces a long ban if found guilty by English soccer authorities
  • Paqueta immediately took to social media to deny the charges

RIO DE JANEIRO: Lucas Paqueta can continue to play for Brazil while he fights spot-fixing charges by the English Football Association, his national team said Thursday.
Paqueta, who plays his club soccer for West Ham, is alleged to have deliberately received yellow cards during Premier League matches to influence betting markets.
He was charged with misconduct on May 23 and faces a long ban if found guilty by English soccer authorities.
Paqueta immediately took to social media to deny the charges, vowing to “fight with every breath to clear my name,” but has until Monday to formally respond to the allegations. The English FA has acknowledged that Paqueta may request for an extension before issuing his official response.
In a long statement on Thursday, the Brazilian Football Confederation said it was aware of the allegations and contacted the English FA for information.
Based on the English FA’s responses, confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues Gomes said Paqueta will stay in Brazil’s squad ahead of the Copa America starting June 20 and remains free to play in upcoming friendlies against Mexico and the United States.


Taif to host first group race as King Faisal Cup is upgraded

Taif to host first group race as King Faisal Cup is upgraded
Updated 30 May 2024
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Taif to host first group race as King Faisal Cup is upgraded

Taif to host first group race as King Faisal Cup is upgraded
  • Competition becomes only G3 for 3-year-old purebred Arabians on dirt in the GCC region

RIYADH: Taif’s King Khalid Racecourse is to stage a group race for the first time this season after it was announced that September’s King Faisal Cup has been upgraded to Group 3 level by the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities.

The $267,000 (SR1 million) contest, which was run as an international Listed race last season, will become the only Group 3 race on dirt for 3-year-old purebred Arabians in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region.

It is a landmark for Saudi Arabia’s summer racecourse and demonstrates the continued growth and improvement of the purebred Arabian program, underlining the importance of racing in Saudi Arabian culture.

The Group 3 King Faisal Cup will be run on Friday, Sept. 20, at the racecourse in Taif, where it will be supported on the card by the Listed Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup, also for purebred Arabians.

The King Faisal Cup was won last year by the Saad Mutlaq-trained Nadem Al-Molwk Al-Khalediah, who was ridden to success by leading local jockey Adel Al-Faridi.

The racing season at King Khalid Racecourse begins on Thursday, July 4, with the campaign featuring 39 fixtures and culminating on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Ziad Al-Mogren, the CEO of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, said: “The upgrading of the King Faisal Cup marks an important milestone for racing in Taif, with it being the first-ever group race that will be contested at King Khalid Racecourse.

“We are proud to be raising the level of racing, both purebred Arabian and thoroughbred, throughout our Taif and Riyadh seasons, and this remains a key part of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia’s strategy.

“With the King Faisal Cup becoming the only Group 3 contest on dirt for 3-year-old Arabians in the region, it displays our ongoing commitment to develop and showcase world-class purebred Arabian racing, a tradition that is of huge significance to local Saudi Arabian culture.”


UFC’s Dana White announces main card for Abu Dhabi fight night

UFC’s Dana White announces main card for Abu Dhabi fight night
Updated 30 May 2024
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UFC’s Dana White announces main card for Abu Dhabi fight night

UFC’s Dana White announces main card for Abu Dhabi fight night
  • White reveals bouts featuring some of the sport’s biggest names, contenders competing in MMA
  • Sandhagen-Nurmagomedov showdown dubbed ‘No.1 contender fight’

ABU DHABI: The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s CEO Dana White confirmed on his social media platforms on Thursday the main card for the fight night on Aug. 3 which features Cory Sandhagen and Umar Nurmagomedov facing off in Abu Dhabi.
White also revealed a five-pack of intriguing bouts featuring some of the sport’s biggest names and contenders competing in mixed martial arts.
White dubbed the Sandhagen-Nurmagomedov battle a “No.1 contender fight.”
Sandhagen, 32, has been away from fighting since August 2023 after having sustained a tricep injury during his fight against Rob Font. The American MMA fighter won the bout against Font during five rounds in Tennessee.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dana White (@danawhite)


Returning to the ring for the first time since his injury, Sandhagen is back in Abu Dhabi to cement his status as top contender in the bantamweight division.
The matchup is a rebooking of what was to be the main event in Nashville in August 2023 before a shoulder injury forced Nurmagomedov out of the original bout.
Russian Nurmagomedov, 35, has been called “the best prospect” by White and enters the challenge undefeated.
He has a great chance to catapult himself into the shark pit that is the elite at bantamweight with a win over Sandhagen.
MMA legend Nick Diaz returns to the welterweight division to face all-action fan favorite Vicente Luque. Diaz, a 40-year-old American, was last seen at UFC 266 when he faced Robbie Lawler, but the trip back down to 170 pounds is his first since he fought Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title in March 2013.
Luque, a 32-year-old Brazilian-American, hopes to bounce back with a big win over a big name after he fell to Joaquin Buckley in Atlantic City in March.
Elsewhere on the main card, the bantamweight spotlight shines on “Chito” Vera as he takes on former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo.
Vera, a 31-year-old Ecuadorian, is keen to bounce back after a disappointing result in his rematch with champ “Suga” Sean O’Malley at UFC 299.
Meanwhile, in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division, Mackenzie Dern and Loopy Godinez lock horns, with both fighters hoping to restart a run toward the top of the division.
In the main card opener, Tony Ferguson faces Michael Chiesa. Ferguson, a real legend of the sport, is hoping to finally see his hand raised for the first time since June 2019 at the conclusion of the welterweight contest.

 


Saudi national football team prepares for Asian qualifiers

Saudi national football team prepares for Asian qualifiers
Updated 30 May 2024
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Saudi national football team prepares for Asian qualifiers

Saudi national football team prepares for Asian qualifiers
  • Players participating in the King’s Cup final between Al-Nasser and Al-Hilal on Friday will join the national squad on Sunday
  • Green Falcons fly to Islamabad on Wednesday for their game against Pakistan on Thursday, and then host Jordan in Riyadh on June 11

RIYADH: The Saudi national football team gathered at their training camp in Riyadh on Thursday to begin preparations for the upcoming Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup.
As the Green Falcons held their first training session on Thursday evening behind closed doors at Mahd Academy, members of the squad from Al-Nasser and Al-Hilal, who will meet in the final of the King’s Cup on Friday, were absent. They will join the national team’s preparations on Sunday after head coach Roberto Mancini gave them a day off on Saturday to recover.
The 31-player squad, announced by Mancini last week, will fly out on Wednesday for their game against Pakistan in Islamabad on June 6, and then host Jordan at Alwal park in Riyadh on June 11.
Saudi Arabia currently tops Group G of the Asian qualifiers, with 10 points from four games, ahead of Jordan (7 points) and Tajikistan (5). Pakistan are bottom of the group having lost all four games so far.