By Declan Taylor
FRANK WARREN has confirmed the reported March 9 clash between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia will be a Queensberry Promotions event, even though neither of them are signed with him.
The two heavyweights are in separate fights on Saturday’s Day of Reckoning card in Riyadh and should both come through unscathed, it has been suggested that a return to the Kingdom in March to finally fight each other is already agreed.
Wilder, who fights Joseph Parker, has a long-term association with Al Haymon’s PBC while Joshua, who takes on Otto Wallin, has been with Matchroom ever since he turned professional in 2013.
But any fight between them will be overseen by Warren’s Queensberry Promotions company, following their involvement in Tyson Fury’s clash with Francis Ngannou and now the December 23 supercard.
“Any events there will be Queensberry events in Saudi,” Warren said when asked who will promote Wilder-Joshua.
“As regards the fight between those two, let’s get it out of the way on Saturday and then all will be revealed. There’s a will to make this happen and I’m quite sure everybody will be happy with the outcome providing these guys deliver. The most important thing for them is that they have to deliver.
“Saudi is the destination for big time boxing, there’s no doubt about that. That’s where it is all happening, that’s where it’s going to happen going forward. There will be big fights here, in Vegas and other countries but I think for the heavyweight division at the moment, that’s where the action is going to be. As a result of that, anybody who is involved with any heavyweight of note will be working together.
“But in this particular show that Matchroom, through Anthony Joshua, are involved. We will continue to work with them when the need arises. There is no problem with that. Years ago, I talked about sitting down and trying to do something with [Matchroom], about three or four years ago. But it’s now happening.”
Based on the cards for Fury-Ngannou, the Day of Reckoning and also February’s undisputed fight between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, it is clear that the Saudis, lead by the General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Al-Alshikh have so far shown a preference for heavyweight fights.
Of the 15 fights put together across the two shows, all but three have taken place at heavyweight and only Jack McGann against Roberto Duran Jr has taken place below 175lbs. But Warren says fights from all weight classes will be considered for future events.
“I believe it’s not just a commitment to heavyweight boxing,” he said. “In a very short space of time, the heavyweight division has been taken hold of, shaken up and this is what’s going to happen. We are seeing the fights. I think that will happen in other divisions, I’m quite sure of that. There is great commitment there to make them.
“The matchmaking is a combination of everybody lead by Turki. He’s been instrumental with these fights saying ‘let’s get this on, let’s get this done’. It has been his vision and the resources they have available which has got this done. There was a request to get numerous fighters on the card and they were all discussed. Obviously everybody wasn’t available but the ones who were are on.
“We wouldn’t have got this card together anywhere else in the world because financially it wouldn’t be feasible. It’s only feasible because of the commitment from the Saudis to make this happen. But this is happening to all sports – this is a commitment to turn Riyadh Season into the biggest cultural event in the world. They’re a new destination, a big destination and they don’t do things by half.”