What you need to know:
- Alongside Saturday’s Global Boxing Forum, Dubai will also host the Champions’ Night fights in a format the world boxing body adopted last year in Abu Dhabi.
Umar Kremlev certainly knows how to put on a big show.
The International Boxing Association (IBA) President from Russia is causing some waves here in Dubai in the build-up to the IBA’s Ordinary Congress.
Alongside Saturday’s Global Boxing Forum, Dubai will also host the Champions’ Night fights in a format the world boxing body adopted last year in Abu Dhabi.
With Russia’s Olympic champion Albert Batyrgaziev up against three-time world champion Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba in a 10-round, 60-kilogramme contest that highlights the night of fights, the global boxing family is following the proceedings in Dubai keenly.
And Kremlev didn’t disappoint on Friday, inviting two key boxing legends to grace the pre-fights weigh-in ceremony on the balcony of the 24th floor of the imposing, five-star Jumeirah Beach Hotel overlooking the scenic Dubai beaches.
American ring announcer Michael Buffer, a sports hall of famer known for his trademark “let’s get ready to rumble” pre-fight phrase (US trademark license obtained in 1992), and Panama’s boxing legend Roberto Duran were the celebrity guests at the media weigh-in ceremony that also attracted several other big shots alongside 70 accredited global journalists.
Reports have it that it would cost you between $20,000 and $30,000 (between Sh3 million and Sh3.5 million in current exchange rates) to hire the 79-year-old Buffer to MC your event…
Which, however, is pocket change for the 41-year-old Kremlev, a close ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin.
Little wonder that, for an awkward moment, scores of journalists in attendance pushed and shoved to take selfies with Buffer and Duran after the 16 boxers in action tonight were introduced, with few posing for snaps with the fighters themselves.
“Ladies and gentlemen, a special thanks to the IBA President Umar Kremlev for this great event and great week of boxing, including the IBA Global Convention,” Buffer unleashed his globally acclaimed baritone after taking over the MC’s work from an understudy, much to the audience’s excitement.
“But before we continue, there’s a gentleman here I’d like to bring up onto the stage and have everyone acknowledge him…
“From the international boxing Hall of Fame, one of the greatest fighters in boxing history is here with us this afternoon,” he continued as he ushered the decorated Duran onto the stage.
“He is the former welterweight champion of the world; former lightweight champion of the world; former light middleweight champion of the world and a former middleweight champion of the world…. Robertoooo Duraaan!”
Buffer roared as the famous Panama legend took to the stage to acknowledge the applause and witness the final two weigh-ins of the afternoon.
Saturday’s undercard fights feature 2023 World Championships silver medallist Saidjamshid Jafarov (Uzbekistan) up against Japan’s 2021 world champion Sewonrets Okazawa (71 kilogrammes) with Belarusian Aliaksei Alfiorau, a former world silver medalist, fighting Azerbaijan’s Loren Alfonso, world champion and Olympic bronze medallist in the 86kg category.
France’s three-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Sofiane Oumiha faces Spain’s Jose Quiles Brotons, a European silver medallist in the 60kg ahead of the night’s three professional fights.
Russia’s world and Olympic champion Evgeny Tishchenko dares Germany’s Leon Harth for the WBA World Champion title in 12-round clash (101.6kg) while another Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov is up against another German Artur Mann.
Saturday’s top fights (Kenyan times):
7.54pm: Saidjamshid Jafarov (Uzbekistan) vs Sewon Okazawa (Japan) – 71kg, six rounds;
8.27pm: Jose Quiles Brotons (Spain) vs Soufiane Oumiha (France) – 60kg, six rounds;
9.00pm: Lucas Brown (Australia) vs Mark Petrovsky (Russia) – 60kg, eight rounds;
10.01pm: Artur Mann (Germany) vs Muslim Gadzhimagomedov (Russia) – 90.7kg, 10 rounds;
10.50pm: Leon Harth (Germany) vs Evgeny Tishchenko (Russia) – 101.6kg, 12 rounds;
11:47pm: Lazaro Alvarez (Cuba) vs Albert Batyrgaziev (Russia) – 63.5kg, 10 rounds