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Saudi PIF Eyes Billion-Dollar Boxing League

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Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is in talks with several key figures in the boxing world to establish a new league, potentially transforming the sport's competitive scene, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

The PIF aims to invest in a joint venture with various boxing stakeholders to increase the number of bouts, said the sources, who requested anonymity.

Leading promoters like Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions are part of the discussions, which could result in a new entity valued between $4-5 billion, one source mentioned.

The proposed venture seeks to unite the main organizers of the sport, with PIF taking a minority stake, the source added.

Turki al-Sheikh, a close advisor to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, was overseeing the final stages of these talks about a month ago, according to another source.

Details on how the league would be structured remain unclear.

When asked for comments, both PIF and Matchroom Boxing declined, and Golden Boy Promotions did not respond.

Currently, boxing is governed by organizations like the World Boxing Council, the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Association, and the World Boxing Organization, each with its own rules for championship belts.

Saudi Arabia’s Investment in International Sports

Under the Vision 2030 program led by Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia has invested billions in various sports to reduce its oil dependency, attract tourism, boost the private sector, and create jobs.

Boxing is the latest sport to garner potential investment from the PIF, which has already made deals in golf, Formula 1, and football.

The fund is also considering investing in a new cycling league, Reuters reported.

"Boxing has the potential to draw investor attention to the kingdom," said Sebastion Sons, senior researcher at consultancy CARPO.

"By investing in sports, Saudi Arabia aims to gain market access, establish new political and economic networks, attract tourists, and raise global awareness for its transformation."

The PIF made headlines in the golf world by funding the LIV Golf series, which created competition with the PGA Tour and eventually led to a surprise merger announcement last year.

However, that deal is now uncertain as talks have stalled and a US Senate panel described it as an attempt by Saudi Arabia’s government to “buy influence” in US sports.

The kingdom has already hosted some of boxing’s major events. "There is big opportunity in boxing," Al-Sheikh told ESPN earlier this year.

"But you must improve the market."

In August 2023, SURJ Sports Investment, formerly SRJ Sports Investments and owned by PIF, acquired a stake in the US’ Professional Fighters League.

Since then, boxing stars like heavyweight Tyson Fury have traveled to Riyadh for fights, watched by celebrities such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined the kingdom’s soccer league last year.

 

Source: gulfbusiness

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