The Week: Turki Alalshikh reveal his three-fight wish list, and “Tank” meets Martin

Dune Bud

Another week, another megastar linked with a major debut in Saudi. This time, on Wednesday, Turki Alalshikh tweeted a picture of Terence Crawford with a shrug emoji. In the past, a Tweet like that would seem innocuous, but these days it will send the whole app into a spin. This was one of those days.

It ramped up when Crawford replied with a trio of the emoji where the little yellow bloke is holding one of his little yellow fingers over his lips, and by the end of the day, Crawford had already been linked with Kingdom fights with the likes of Josh Kelly  and Israil Madrimov. Later this week, another name would also enter the chat.

Meanwhile, fight week for Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia was in full swing (pun intended), but not at the baseball. The pair came together at the Empire State Building that afternoon and things got a little physical. As a result, when the pair arrived at Citi Field for the New York Mets against the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were told they would not be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch because officials were worried about another fracas.

However, he later added: “Just wait on it. Don’t be surprised when this fight happens in September.” We live in hope.

Grim pickings

Sticking in New York, there was a lot to hate about Thursday’s final press conference as Garcia got into a back-and-forth with someone in the crowd which included some needlessly lewd retorts. But even those were not the worst quotes from the build-up, as Bill Haney, father and trainer of Devin, declared that his son was going to kill Ryan Garcia.

“I’m sending my son to go and kill him,” Haney Snr said. “I don’t care what nobody says, if you don’t want to watch it and you don’t want to see it, then don’t watch it. It was a suicide for him to sign up [for this fight] and it’s going to be a homicide on April 20 because of all the disrespect. That’s what my son is going to do. It’s going to be an annihilation.”

Just to be clear, those words came from the father of one of the combatants; a grown man who should know better.

Of all the putrid stuff spouted over the course of this whole promotion, that might just be the worst in a very competitive field.

As a result of the tension all week and the entire nature of the press conference, it was also decided that there would be no face-off at the event, although the pair would come together the day after at the weigh-in.

The weight is over

Despite his insistence at the week’s open workouts that he was bang on the weight, Ryan Garcia came in at a whopping 143¼bs, well over the contracted 140lbs. He insisted he had tried his best to make the limit, after appearing to glug a bottle of beer, and responded angrily to the crowd as they booed him for missing weight so dramatically. Due to the terms of their contract, Garcia then had to cough up $500,000 per pound missed, giving Haney an even more inflated purse for their mega-money showdown.

There was also time for Bill Haney, fresh from his “kill” comments, to clash with Bernard Hopkins as the two fighters posed for their final head-to-head.

Back on the Crawford story, Thursday also brought with it a picture of another top-tier welterweight, Jaron Ennis, photographed alongside Turki Alalshikh. Elsewhere, during an interview with DAZN, Ennis’ promoter, Eddie Hearn, revealed that ‘Boots’ has already told him he could well finish his career all the way up at light-heavyweight after securing world titles in five different weight classes.

Jaron Ennis

Ryan’s world

FIRST on Saturday there was a major show announcement as it was confirmed that Gervonta Davis would return to the ring in his long-mooted bout with Frank Martin. The pair will clash on June 15 in Las Vegas in a PBC on Amazon Prime event.

Of course, the main story of Saturday was Garcia against Haney, which did actually happen despite the scarcely believable antics of the promotion. It was weird all the way up to the fight too, as Garcia hired a string quartet to sit in his dressing room and play him classical music as he got ready. Surely a first.

By the time he actually got to the ring, it was a symphony of his trademark left hooks which paved the way to a shock majority decision victory, which included Haney being knocked down three times. It was an instant classic.

Also, a mention for one of the maddest set of scorecards for a long time after the fight between Sean McComb and Arnold Barboza. Judge Benoit Roussel had it 98-92 for McComb, while Tom Schreck (96-94) and Don Trella (97-93) both scored it in favour of Barboza.

Fractious business

NO sooner had Garcia done the business at the Barclays than he was back on social media making noises about his next fight. And, having missed the weight so dramatically, it does not seem as if he has plans on attempting to make 140lbs again.

Instead, one of the men in his sights on the Sabbath was welterweight Conor Benn, and the pair engaged in a little back-and-forth.

All Benn had done was Tweet “great performance from Garcia”, and that was enough to get the ball rolling on a fight between the two.

“Let’s run it in London at the O2,” Garcia replied. “I will fracture you SPLEIN and then eat it,” he added, suggesting a lack of knowledge on the number of bones in a spleen. “Shoutout London.”

There was also some fallout from that Barboza-McComb controversy on Sunday.

Promoter Lou DiBella Tweeted: “There are bad decisions and there are BAD DECISIONS. Barboza winning that fight was CRIMINAL. NO. FUCKING. WAY.”

McComb’s manager Lee Eaton later confirmed: “formal appeal/complaint lodged.”

Wishlist set for reality?

AFTER his Tweet on Wednesday, the chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Entertainment Authority, Turki Alalshikh, went one better on Monday as he hosted an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, where he confirmed a number of plans for the next stage of his boxing revolution.

One of his answers confirmed a desire to match Crawford with Ennis – however, that particular matchup was not in the top three fights he hopes to make. Those were Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua (me too), Canelo Alvarez against Crawford, and David Benavidez against the winner of Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol in Saudi on June 1.

There was a time when a list like that was basically pointless, because fights of such magnitude would generally fall by the wayside, but now is not that time.  There is every chance Turki will get his wish on all three within the next 12 months.

Over in Tokyo, it was confirmed that No.1  super-flyweight Kazuto Ioka will face No.2 Fernando Martinez in a scrumptuous  matchup set for July 7.

Sequel confirmed

AFTER months of negotiations, it was finally confirmed on Tuesday that British cruiserweight duo Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe will tangle in their long-awaited rematch on June 15.

A hat tip to Billam-Smith, the defending champion, who has agreed to go to Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace, which is South Londoner Riakporhe’s manor. CBS won the IBF title in his hometown of Bournemouth, but will happily head to the capital for his chance at revenge – and his legion of supporters will too.

Undefeated Riakporhe won their initial clash back in July 2019 via split decision at The O2 and has not put a foot wrong since. Billam-Smith, meanwhile, pulled off one of the biggest shocks of 2023 when he beat Lawrence Okolie.

“I’m going to emotionlessly batter you on the 15th of June,” Riakporhe said. “Your time is coming to an end. The Midnight Train is going to prevail.”

An impish Billam-Smith responded: “Get derailed, did you say?” Fight night is a little over seven weeks away. Great fight.

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