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Turki Alalshikh is the mastermind behind Saudi Arabia's big money boxing fights and ended a 15-year feud between Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren… but how did he come to power? And why is he called 'His Excellency'?

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Whether you’re a fan of the boxing scene rapidly escalating in Saudi Arabia or not, the investment from the Middle East has changed the sport forever – and there is one man at the centre of it all. 

Behind the Battle of the Baddest, Knockout Chaos and Ring of Fire – along with Hollywood-style video promotions and eye-watering financial rewards for fighters is Turki Alalshikh, a Saudi adviser at the Royal Court and chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) – responsible for planning major events in the kingdom.

When you watch the press conferences, the weigh-ins, the interviews starring the likes of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou in Saudi, it’s likely you’ll have spotted a regular face in the mix. 

Alalshikh is seen as a mysterious figure but one who has been integral in quickly putting together these huge match-ups otherwise plagued by drawn-out negotiations and egos getting in the way. 

His diligence in boxing has been a gift to boxing fans, who have rejoiced in seeing epic cards like the Day of Reckoning event that brought together Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Daniel Dubois, Jarrell Milller, Filip Hrgovic and Otto Wallin on the same card.  

Saudi's entertainment chief Turki Alalshikh is the brains behind the country's high profile boxing fights over the last year

Saudi’s entertainment chief Turki Alalshikh is the brains behind the country’s high profile boxing fights over the last year

Alalshikh has been instrumental in bringing huge names like Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou to the Kingdom

Alalshikh has been instrumental in bringing huge names like Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou to the Kingdom 

Not much is known about the 42-year-old, who has close ties with many of the sport’s top fighters and promoters – who address him as ‘His Excellency’. 

Born in August 1981, Alalshikh graduated from the King Fahd Security College in 2001 with a degree in security sciences before he began working in various government departments in Saudi Arabia – including the interior ministry and the offices of the Emirate of Riyadh, the defence minister and the Crown Prince.

Crucially in 2017 he became a royal adviser and made a minister – then issued a royal decree to be elected as chairman to the GEA the following year.

During his time with the department, he has been responsible for unveiling ‘Riyadh Season’, a festival of sports and culture which aims to bring big sports and entertainment events to Saudi Arabia. 

The first major sporting event they created the Riyad Season Cup which saw a PSG team featuring Lionel Messi invited to the Kingdom to face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.

The following year, his events only got bigger as Alalshikh was responsible for bringing together Fury and Ngannou for their ‘Battle of the Baddest’ clash to kick off the 2023 edition of the festival. The two fighters are said to have earned around £40million and £8m respectively from the bout before PPV sales.

The 42-year-old, who is an adviser to the Saudi royal family, is often seen with big name celebrities. Pictured: With Cristiano Ronaldo and Conor McGregor

The 42-year-old, who is an adviser to the Saudi royal family, is often seen with big name celebrities. Pictured: With Cristiano Ronaldo and Conor McGregor

He has earned the respect of fighters like Anthony Joshua after simplifying the negotiating process and making big fights happen

He has earned the respect of fighters like Anthony Joshua after simplifying the negotiating process and making big fights happen

After the Day of Reckoning event came the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup starring the likes of Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcarez in December – before bringing the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia as Real Madrid saw off rivals Atletico in January. 

Not long after that the Italian Super Cup was also held in Riyadh, before Messi was brought back to the country again to face Al-Nassr – this time with new club Inter Miami. 

Alalshikh has since announced that the first ever UFC fight will take place in the Middle East this summer, just after a Bellator event was held in February. The WWE has become familiar with the Middle East already. He has delved into nearly every major sport and brought eyes to it. He’s even agreed to host a snooker tournament.

However – he’s had no bigger success than with boxing. 

It’s not just the high-calibre events he’s put together and the top-tier fighters he’s signed up, it’s the quality of the promotion. Fans were blown away by the trailer for the Day of Reckoning event, which depicted Joshua and Wilder as zombies in a clip that you’d expect to see in a cinema.

The same quality was seen in Joshua’s promotion for his ‘Knockout Chaos’ fight against Ngannou, showing the pair as video game characters fighting each other in a city with big budget stunts and fight scenes. 

Alalshikh's department wasted little time in arranging Joshua's fight against Ngannou this year

Alalshikh’s department wasted little time in arranging Joshua’s fight against Ngannou this year

A lot of effort and investment has gone into his events and it shows how serious he has been about making Saudi Arabia the boxing capital of the world.

It will be some time before that happens, though. Certainly, there is no rival to the sound of ‘Sweet Caroline’ playing out in front of a packed out Wembley Stadium during a major boxing fight in the UK, with some fans criticising a ‘soulless’ atmosphere in Saudi for AJ’s win over Ngannou last week. 

But with the amount of big fights we’ve had in Saudi Arabia now, there has been a major theme that this is where the boxers want to be. The Saudis have put their money on the table and shown they are serious people, so why wouldn’t they?

A quick flick through Alalshikh’s Instagram and you’ll see him posing with just about every major figure, fighter and promoter in boxing – as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho and John Cena.

He has build relationships and earned respect, with many quick to compliment him for putting on huge events and referring to him as ‘His Excellency’ – the title given to a high-level officer in Saudi Arabia outside of the royal family.

They have every reason to be pleased with the work Alalshikh has done. Boxing usually gets stick for having too many middle men who get in the way of negotiations. When he is involved, fights are usually ironed out quickly.

The Saudi chief is pictured alongside a host of boxing legends - including Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and Lennox Lewis

The Saudi chief is pictured alongside a host of boxing legends – including Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and Lennox Lewis

He has helped produce big-budget Hollywood-style movie trailers promoting the fights - such as a clip depicting Anthony Joshua an Deontay Wilder as zombies

He has helped produce big-budget Hollywood-style movie trailers promoting the fights – such as a clip depicting Anthony Joshua an Deontay Wilder as zombies

Just look at Fury vs Usyk, which had failed to come to fruition on two occasions before Alalshikh hammered out a deal to bring the first undisputed fight since 1999 and gave it another lavish title ‘Ring of Fire’. 

The same was done for Fury vs Ngannou and Joshua vs Ngannou. He would have arranged Joshua vs Wilder were it not for the American’s shock loss to Parker. The Saudis involvement in this big fights removes the ego and allows the fighters to focus on the fight. 

Even when Fury was forced to delay his huge fight against Usyk, Alalshikh stepped in to defend him after claims he had ‘ducked’ the Ukrainian.

He was present during a tense video call between Fury and Usyk’s team, and made an interesting claim to show how intent he was about ensuring the bout went ahead in May, saying either fighter would be fined £8m if they pulled out.

‘If Usyk is scared, I will call for [Anthony] Joshua vs. Tyson,’ he said. ‘If Tyson is scared, I will call for any fighter Usyk wants, and it’s my name on this thing. We have a guarantee from both sides, and they know it now.’ 

Alalshikh even convinced rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren (R) to end their 15-year feud and sign a deal to produce a '5v5' card

Alalshikh even convinced rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren (R) to end their 15-year feud and sign a deal to produce a ‘5v5’ card

That’s not the first time Alalshikh has played peacemaker. Before he got involved with boxing, rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren had not so much as uttered a word to each other. Now you’ll see them side by side as co-promoters at his events and even planning to pit their fighters against each other. 

Hearn and Warren have never been on speaking terms but were forced to work together when both were involved in Joshua vs Ngannou, and Alalshikh found a quick way to increase relations between the pair – with a showdown between their best fighters.

He came up with an idea for a ‘5v5’ card that would see five of Hearn’s Matchroom fighters go up against five of Warren’s from Queensbury to settle the debate on who has the best stable.

It was quite a picture to see the two rivals shaking hands on it, while Warren claimed he was willing to bet £1million on winning the event. The duo have already signed contracts to make it happen, with a date yet to be confirmed.

At a joint press conference featuring the three of them, Alalshikh joked: ‘I don’t like the peace between them’, writing a caption: ‘The ultimate showdown in Riyadh! Matchroom vs. Queensberry, the two boxing titans, finally clash in an intense 5v5 battle. After years of promoting their own fighters, it’s time for these giants to face off. Riyadh, get ready for a night of epic confrontations and raw power.’

So while the debate over whether the Saudis are good for boxing rages on, the argument against it is diminishing so long as the man leading the charge is producing the goods.