Dubai: Some of the more prominent British boxers have joined their trainer and promoter in espousing the cause of Dubai as a serious boxing destination of the future.
David Coldwell was training in Dubai last week with a bunch of boxers from his stable, and the British trainer cum promoter was convinced that this can well be the next big venue for the sport. “Saudi Arabia has done it. Why can’t Dubai do it as well?” Coldwell told Gulf News while referring to Amir Khan’s win against Australian Billy Dib during the first of its kind WBC fight in Jeddah earlier this month.
“I would definitely like to be involved if a like-minded person comes along,” he added. “I have several fighters who could start off in Dubai. As for me, I know Dubai and it would make sense to have Dubai as a serious boxing venue. What’s there not to like about Dubai? I like the lifestyle, the people, the weather, the food. I would prefer to start off and be involved in boxing in Dubai.”
All the Coldwell boxers were in an absorbing mood as WBA international featherweight champion Jordan Gill joined the likes of former WBA and IBF World bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell and 2014 Commonwealth Games middleweight gold medallist Anthony Fowler, alongside young hopefuls such as Ramtin Musah and 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Ivan Hope Price at Dubai’s Real Boxing Only Gym last week.
Dubai has persistently tried to woo some top boxers including the likes of the sensational Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The closest the authorities have come was way back in February 2008 when former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer clashed with Shelby Gross at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Of course, there was much hope heaped upon local lad Eisa Al Dah through the ‘Destiny in the Desert’ and ‘Global Impact’, but that too didn’t last its course.
“We would definitely need some big names like Amir Khan or Manny Pacquiao. But, at this stage it would make better sense if we could start off with a mid-level sort of event,” Coldwell said. “If you’re bringing fighters, then they’ve got to come over from all across the world, not just from one country. We need to create the right sort of base and then keep it growing.
“Basically, we would need people with a bit of patience. I was a promoter back home and I’ve staged at least 70 fights right from small events to the big arenas. You have to show that it can be done and the sport can grow here. A lot of people have spoken about hosting events, but that has not happened. One has to execute plans and get it done and I feel that it can be done.”
As a boxer, the Kolkata-born Coldwell won the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) Central Area flyweight title. Today, as a promoter he has the likes of Tony Bellew, Fowler and McDonnell training out of his gym in Rotherham. “I can’t see why this place cannot be the next big stop for boxing in the region,” Fowler said. “For sure, there are more people interested now than before and the numbers of fighters looking at Dubai as a destination is also increasing.”
A cousin of England and Liverpool football legend Robbie, Fowler is preparing for his next fight for the vacant WBO Intercontinental middleweight championship against Brian Rose at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool on August 2. “I am fairly confident and I think I am a younger, fresher fighter,” the 28-year-old said.
“Rose is a good fighter as well but I bet this is my time and I believe I am going to win.”
At the back of his mind will be the narrow loss on split decision to Scott Fitzgerald for the WBA international super welterweight title on March 30. “When I have beaten these kids in previous fights, I believed they were at their best,” Fowler added. “Now, I am ready and I believe I am a better fighter, and I will do anything to prove this.”
Former WBA, IBF world bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell couldn’t agree more about the UAE becoming a top venue. “Dubai is just the perfect place to be. I can seriously hope for a rematch in Dubai. the 33-year-old former European, Commonwealth and BBBofC champion from Doncaster said.
“I am an honest fighter and I am willing to fight anywhere in the world. In fact, I believe I am the best superbantam weight fighter there is at the moment. If I have to go out and prove this here in Dubai then I am more than willing to do so.”
For a youngster such as Ivan Hope Price — a gold medallist at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires — the Dubai trip was more of a growth experience that, in fact, can be used to furthering his presence in the sport. “I am enjoying the experience of being away from home,” he said. “Here, I can concentrate on the training as there are no distractions. It’s all about getting down and doing your job.”