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Saudi wealth fund in talks to create new boxing league

People, Person, Clothing Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (right) watches the bout between Dmitry Bivol and Malik Zinad in Riyadh on June 1, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks with boxing promotion companies to create a new boxing league, as the kingdom expands its investments into the sporting sector, according to a media report.

The Public Investment Fund is negotiating with promoters such as the UK’s Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions from the US to set up a new $4-5 billion venture to host more boxing matches, Reuters reported, citing informed sources.

The wealth fund will hold a minority stake in the venture, which is intended to unite the sport’s organisers.

Reuters reported that Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, was involved in the final negotiations for a potential deal a month ago.

At present, the World Boxing Council, the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organisation run their respective championships separately.

Saudi Arabia has been on a drive to bring global sports and entertainment stars to the kingdom. 

In August 2023, Saudi Arabia’s SRJ Sports Investments acquired a minority stake in the mixed martial arts organisation Professional Fighters League for $100 million.

The government is trying to increase the contribution of sports, entertainment and tourism to GDP as part of its Vision 2030 diversification plans. 

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, has already already signed a four-year global partnership with Fifa, the international football association.

PIF became the official naming partner of the ATP rankings in February, part of its wider sponsorship of the governing body of men’s tennis.

The fund has also struck a deal to host the Women’s Tennis Association finals for the next three years.

In golf, in June 2023, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the PIF-backed LIV circuit announced an agreement to merge and form one unified commercial entity, ending the heated dispute that had divided the sport.

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