Anthony Joshua trains atop the Burj Al Arab during a promotional event organised by the Dubai Sports Council last November. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Tourism

Dubai: It’s only a matter of time before a mega-fight comes to Dubai or Abu Dhabi after the success of Friday’s Groves-Smith bout in Jeddah, according to Eddie Hearn, the promoter of Anthony Joshua and Amir Khan.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have continually been linked to hosting a big boxing event, and Hearn, the managing director of Matchroom Sport, says he gets two to three requests a week from the region.

However, he claimed that negotiations have often stalled during monetary negotiations.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have continually been linked to hosting a big boxing event. Getty/AFP

Now though, after the success of the groundbreaking Groves-Smith fight in Jeddah, other GCC cities might start to reconsider, especially with huge fights like Joshua-Wilder and Khan-Pacquiao on the horizon.

“We’ve done darts events in Dubai and we speak to them all the time, that’s ready-made for a major boxing event, as is Abu Dhabi,” he said, on the sidelines of the Groves-Smith fight in Saudi Arabia.

“It could happen anytime, it only takes for someone to actually come up with the money, because all these fights they’ve talked about hosting like Mayweather-Pacquiao, they haven’t come up with the money, ultimately that’s why they haven’t happened.

After the success of Friday’s Groves-Smith bout in Jeddah, it’s only a matter of time before a mega-fight comes to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, says boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. Getty / AFP

“They’ve got to the stage where someone says right ‘send the money’ and it’s never come, maybe that’s because it was too much money, but to bring that kind of fight here rather than America or London, you need an excuse and that excuse is money.”


Not holding the event in the US or UK leads to losses that need to be compensated, he explained.

“You’re losing live gate receipts and proportions of pay-per-view revenue because of the fact it’s not on home soil and the timing is a little different, so it would cost anywhere between US $30-50 million for a sizeable fight ranging from Joshua-Wilder to Khan-Pacquiao [to come to the UAE].

“We could do smaller level stuff, but we don’t really need to go to those territories, we’ve got a great thing going, but if someone came up with sizeable money we could take a sizeable fight there.”

Hearn added that the success of Jeddah would now force Dubai and Abu Dhabi to take notice.

“I think what’s good about this [Groves-Smith] is that it might have woken people up in those territories to think ‘oh they did it and it went down quite well actually.’

Tickets, pay-per-view

“I’d love to do an event in Dubai if they come up with the money, and they can come up with the money, they’ve done it with golf and have even held a few MMA events in Abu Dhabi because they think that’s quite hot, but boxing is getting hotter and hotter, so it’s only a matter of time.

“Saudi probably isn’t the right place to hold a Joshua-Wilder fight, Brits can’t get visas, and also after paying the site fee, Saudis aren’t getting revenue from these events because they are giving tickets away, but with Dubai you have the ability to do a gate, sell tickets and bring in international TV for pay-per-view with world sponsorship as well.”

As a final takeaway from the Groves-Smith fight, he added: “It’s comforting to know boxing is relevant, expanding and popular in these territories, because I wouldn’t have known."

"I didn’t expect this, I’m not saying it’s an amazing crowd” — a 10,000 capacity indoor arena was over three quarters full —  "but it’s a better atmosphere than I’ve seen in many events around the world.”