Saudi Arabia has added another major sporting event to its portfolio after it was announced that the newly developed Kingdom Arena in Riyadh will host the heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.
WBC and Lineal heavyweight world champion Fury will take on WBO/WBA/IBF champion Usyk in a fight that will crown the division’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
The event at Kingdom Arena will form part of Riyadh Season and will be presented by the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia. Further details, including the official fight date, will be announced in due course.
Kingdom Arena has a capacity of 26,000 and is set to host football matches played by Riyadh-based Al Hilal from January. The Fury-Usyk fight will be promoted by Queensbury, Top Rank, K2 and Usyk17.
Fury and Usyk had been due to face off at London’s Wembley Stadium in April but the fight was called off. Reports have suggested that the Riyadh event could take place on December 23 or in January.
Queensberry promoter Frank Warren said: “This is the biggest fight that could possibly be made in our sport. The heavyweights always spark the imagination of the fans, and I have no doubt this will be the biggest boxing event of the century. I look forward to Tyson reclaiming the three belts that he never lost in the ring.”
Riyadh Season was launched in 2019. This year’s Riyadh Season will commence on October 28 with an opening ceremony and a boxing match between Fury and mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou.
Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, recently dismissed claims that the Kingdom’s vast investment in sports events and properties represents ‘sportswashing’, stating that he “doesn’t care” about this label if it continues to boost GDP.
Saudi Arabia’s investment in sports properties is chiefly represented through its ownership of English Premier League football club Newcastle United and its backing of LIV Golf. The Kingdom has also been awarded hosting rights for tennis’ Next Gen ATP Finals, and football’s 2023 Club World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup.