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Dubai has campaigned to surpass Vegas as the “battle capital of the world” with icons like Floyd Mayweather tempted by desert dollars

DUBAI is backed to surpass Las Vegas as the ‘Battle Capital of the World’ – with stars past and present tempted by desert dollars.

The Middle East has become a real contender in the boxing business in recent years, offering big purses without sparing expense.

Floyd Mayweather pictured in Dubai

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Floyd Mayweather pictured in DubaiCredit: Unknown, clear with picture desk
Regis Prograis, promoter Richard Schaefer and Tyrone McKenna

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Regis Prograis, promoter Richard Schaefer and Tyrone McKennaCredit: Unknown, clear with picture desk

Anthony Joshua, 32, recorded his must-win rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr., also 32, in 2019. to the Saudi desert, where he won on points.

But just over 600 miles down the road, the glamorous tourist destination of Dubai is threatening to hog the spotlight.

Redesigned promotion rehearse are hosting back-to-back shows at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium here this week.

World champions and Olympic champions are in action, ahead of strong rivals Hafthor Bjornsson (33) and Eddie Hall (34). pay their bills on Saturday.

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With something for everyone, Hall of Fame promoter Richard Schaefer warned that there are new players in town.

Schaefer told SunSport: “I have no doubt that Dubai will become the fight capital of the world.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, that’s promoter talk.’ But I have no ulterior motives, I’m not on the payroll of Dubai or Las Vegas.

“I’ll say it as I feel and I really feel Dubai has a chance to become the fight capital of the world.”

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Former WBA welterweight champion Regis Prograis, 33, has boxed under the lights of Vegas and across the pond in London.

But he returns to the ring against Ireland’s Tyrone McKenna, 32, confident that a new dawn for boxing is on the horizon.

Prograis said: “This could be a mecca for boxing.

“First of all it’s very nice out here, I’ve told my people I’m fighting in Dubai and they just want to come here.

“A lot of people who have the money want to come to Dubai, it’s a great place.

“There are also many people out here from different cultures from all over the world.

“I hope Dubai could be a place that could rival Las Vegas or New York and bring a lot of big fights here.”

Regis Prograis fights Tyron McKenna

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Regis Prograis fights Tyron McKenna
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium

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The Dubai Duty Free Tennis StadiumPhoto credit: Getty

But for its potential for Dubai to compete with boxing’s traditional home bases, the biggest and best fights need to be brought over.

Prograis added: “You have to fight the right fight, that’s the main thing.

“You attract the right fighters, pay them enough – and in Dubai they shouldn’t have any problem paying people out here – they have a lot of money.

“You attract the right fights here and then people will come. You get the big fighters out of here, then people will follow.”

Badou Jack, 38, is a former two-weight world champion formerly promoted by Floyd Mayweather, 45

Jack has fought and risen in Dubai before and admits the eight-hour time difference with America is a sticking point.

He explained: “The main thing is pay-per-view. For most major fights, the pay-per-view numbers are from the US.

Hafthor Bjornsson and Eddie Hall fight in Dubai

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Hafthor Bjornsson and Eddie Hall fight in Dubai
Hafthor Bjornsson weighs in against Eddie Hall

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Hafthor Bjornsson weighs in against Eddie HallCredit: Ben Looi
Eddie Hall weighs in against Hafthor Bjornsson

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Eddie Hall weighs in against Hafthor BjornssonCredit: Ben Looi

“Having big fights there, breaking pay-per-view records is quite difficult because most people watch boxing from the US.

“But I definitely think the more big fights, the more that’s happening over there, it’s going to get bigger and bigger.”

Prograis – who felt Robbed of a win over Josh Taylor in 2019 – also welcomed Dubai as a middle ground for fighters from the UK and US.

Jack agreed: “It’s closer to the UK – but it’s definitely a level playing field.”

He added: “Dubai is also in the middle of the whole world, so anyone can come there, it’s not too far from anything.

“It’s close to Europe, Africa, Asia, the US is a bit further away.

“But they have this lifestyle there, which is like a mix of West and East.

Badou Jack training in Dubai

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Badou Jack training in DubaiPhoto credit: @badoujack
Badou Jack has promoted and fought in Dubai

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Badou Jack has promoted and fought in DubaiPhoto credit: @badoujack

“It’s luxurious over there too — it’s like the Las Vegas of the Middle East.”

IBF flyweight champion Sunny Edwards, 26, makes headlines for Probellum on Saturday night against Muhammad Waseem, 34.

But it’s not just current champions looking to capitalize on Dubai’s ever-growing popularity on fight nights.

Boxing icon Mayweather, 45, announced plans in December to return in an exhibition fight 700 feet in the air on a hotel helipad.

Talks were still ongoing as close friend Jack said: “Floyd is a big name around the world and people love him over there.

“Money talks and he’s the king of money – ‘Money Mayweather.’ He even fought in Japan, so I think he’ll go where the money is.”

Schaefer has worked with Mayweather on numerous occasions after co-founding Golden Boy Promotions with old rival Oscar De La Hoya.

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So what else draws boxing kings like Mayweather to Dubai?

Schaefer said: “The beauty of Dubai, the luxury of Dubai. Floyd addresses what Dubai offers.

“Floyd likes to be in the trendiest places in the world and Dubai is one of the trendiest places in the world.”

Floyd Mayweather, Richard Schaefer and Canelo Alvarez in 2013

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Floyd Mayweather, Richard Schaefer and Canelo Alvarez in 2013Photo credit: AFP
Floyd Mayweather with Badou Jack

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Floyd Mayweather with Badou JackPhoto credit: @badoujack

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17992730/dubai-vegas-fight-capital-of-the-world-floyd-mayweather/ Dubai has campaigned to surpass Vegas as the “battle capital of the world” with icons like Floyd Mayweather tempted by desert dollars

Ashley

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