Opinion: Boxing has to keep the same energy as golf on Saudi Arabia

Boxing is going back down the road of human rights issues as a heavyweight title fight heads back to Saudi Arabia this summer.

Golfers faced expulsion from the PGA Tour this week for agreeing on a greed deal to play in the LIV Invitation Tournament.

It’s all about money, according to multi-major winner Rory McIlroy, who refused to participate.

Now, boxing – as usual – is at it again. Some take money over glory by promoting a rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua on Saudi soil.

Promoter Eddie Hearn also admitted it’s all about the cash, which is sickeningly honest and hard to stomach.

Speaking to The Daily Mail, Hearn was straight as an arrow as he admitted the Saudi checks were too hard to turn down, no matter the issues that are going on in that country right now.

“I’m very comfortable, particularly in boxing, to make decisions like that, for many different reasons,” said Hearn to The Mail on the Usyk vs. Joshua II project.

In bringing the golf argument into the equation, Hearn says boxing is an exception and a far different game from the 18-hole spectacle.

“One is I’ve done it before [when promoting AJ vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. II]. It was a huge success. I’ve seen the work that went into making a major sporting event for the region. It’s not a game of golf.

‘”I’m not saying the golfers shouldn’t be playing in this tournament. I’m saying it’s a prize fight where contractually, we have to go to the venue that ultimately creates the most revenue for this fight – whether AJ likes it or not.

“It’s not even close. And it’s not like there’s a little difference from doing it in London. It’s a whole different stratosphere.”

Ruiz vs Joshua 2 Boxing Saudi Arabia Golf
Mark Robinson

BOXING SAUDI ARABIA GOLF

Hearn’s argument that the numbers are so significantly higher that he cannot turn down the Saudi offers doesn’t wash with many, who are sick of boxing being the fall guy for these matters.

The Matchroom boss believes there’s no real motivation for golfers apart from money, which is not the same for boxing.

“With these golfers, they’ve got to sit down and say, “I was excited by this project,” which they genuinely could be, “I wanted to have my own destiny in terms of my schedule. I want to make a lot of money.” They’re missing that bit out.”

In his desire to go against complaints from fans and human rights groups, Hearn reiterated: “Boxing’s different; Boxing is a sport where we all expect these guys to go in, have a fight in front of all these people around the world in a potentially damaging environment.

“I have an obligation to make them as much money as possible.

‘I’m doing that, and I’ve done it time and time again. I’ve experienced it [the Middle East], I’ve enjoyed it, and we’ll be doing it again.”

Sport is sport, and boxing had to keep the same energy as golf. Sadly, there are no real punishments for any promoter taking a fight anywhere in the world.

More people have to stand up and say this isn’t right.

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.

WBN Editor Phil has over ten years of boxing news experience. Follow WBN on Twitter @WorldBoxingNews.