Dubai: Future Boxing Capital of the World?
"... I would like to fight in Las Vegas before I retire," stated then-super middleweight belt-holder Carl Froch of the United Kingdom in 2014.
"It's the 'Fight Capital of the World,' and that's one thing I haven't done in my career. I think every fighter, especially when you've done what I've achieved in boxing, would like to be part of a big event in Las Vegas."
Today, Las Vegas is still the world's primary boxing venue. From its glitzy hotels to the bright lights and neon signs of The Strip to the buzz inside the casinos and the excitement in the air in the arenas... Vegas is simply awesome.
... But how long will it remain boxing's 'Capital of the World,' especially given the rise of non-North American champions and stars?
The fall of the USSR and spread of capitalism to other parts of the world have produced more countries that are embracing boxing. As a result, the sport is more competitive today, internationally, that it has ever been and is no longer dominated by Americans, Britons, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.
As a result, expect to see a shift in location for high-profile fight cards. It's only a matter time before fight fans in new locales and with deep pockets start hosting more of boxing's big events.
Enter Dubai, UAE.
Earlier this week, heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's team confirmed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of two locations being considered for the Tyson Fury vs Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight championship rematch.
"The fight is going to take place in one of two places," Peter Fury told Sky Sports.
"Either going to be in the UAE or in the United Kingdom."
"The best package will take it." "It's just about maximizing revenue."
The UAE, on occasion, has expressed interest in big-time boxing the last several years but anticipated revenue for fight cards there has fallen short of "establishment" locations such as Las Vegas, London, Hamburg and Berlin.
Even emerging Macau, now the world's top gambling hub, has gotten a piece of the action this decade.
But as boxing grows, will UAE's largest city and business hub of the Middle East, Dubai, become a hub for big-time boxing as well?
For Klitschko vs Fury 2, the UAE is already competitive with London, a hotbed for boxing and Tyson Fury's hometown. Perhaps Fury's heritage is the only element that may keep this fight out of the UAEi?
There's no gambling in Dubai so there are no hotel casinos offering the ridiculous payouts we see in Las Vegas and Macau. Will this keep Dubai from being a major player in boxing?
... Or will Dubai soon become 'the place to be' for high-profile boxing?
"I'd love to fight in Dubai," declared Manny Pacquiao upon his first visit there last November.
"I'm surprised because they know me here. I want to fight here."
Dubai, UAE facts &stats
1. Like Las Vegas, Dubai was once upon a time a desert, but is now a prime hub in the world’s economy.
2. The local people, called Emiratis, comprise just 15% of the total population. Majority of the population is split between India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and European countries
3. The Dubai police fleet includes a Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bentley.
4. Dubai houses the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.
5. There are ATMs in Dubai that dispense gold bars.
6. The above ground metro station opened in Dubai 2009. It consists of 42 stations and was built in just 18 months.
7. Dubailand will be twice the size of Disneyworld in Florida and is expected to be the largest tourist destination by 2020.
8. The Dubai Mall is the largest shopping center in the world with over 1,200 stores.
9. Sales of oil constitute only 6% of Dubai’s economy.The local economy is mainly based on real estate and tourism.
10. There's air conditioning at outside bus stops.
11. Dubai was reportedly on the verge of a bid for the 2016 Olympics, eventually awarded to Rio de Janeiro, but it failed to materialise.