Nigeria at Verge of Losing an Historic, Money-Pouring World Boxing Title Fight as Corruption, Inertia Ground Buhari’s Gov’t
After years of unsuccessful attempts to stage the Guinness World Record Boxing Championships in his fatherland, Nigeria, the World Boxing Federation (WBF) cruiserweight champion, Bashiru Lawrence Ali, popularly known as Bash Ali, is under pressure to seek salvation elsewhere, dump the country for another nation which is ready to provide an enabling environment for the hosting of the historic fight.
The Guinness World Record Boxing Championship is a world title fight between the Nigerian pugilist, Bash Ali, who clocked 65 on February 27, 2021, and a yet-to-be known opponent from America.
Bash Ali, a holder of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), the highest national honour ever awarded to any Nigerian athlete, is targeting to rewrite boxing history as the oldest man to step into the ring. If he wins the bout, he will be the oldest man on earth to win a world title at the age of 65 and counting. This will be a night of two records.
Bash Ali, the Patriotic Boxing Icon ready to sacrifice money to bless homeland
Timescape Magazine gathered that efforts being made to persuade the government of Nigeria to support the organization of the Guinness World Record Boxing Championships, which many boxing pundits have described as a Nigeria Project, are being met with frustration, bureaucratic bottlenecks, corruption, and maladministration.
Despite the setting up of a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to plan for the fight at different periods by past governments, the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari appears to be looking elsewhere.
Timescape Magazine scooped at the weekend that the International Boxing Union (IBU) under whose aegis the historic bout will hold is losing its patience on this endless waiting on Nigeria and may have determined to take the fight to another country.
Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are three countries that are ready to take up the hosting rights of the lucrative fight, only waiting for cooperation from Bash Ali's camp to get the go-ahead.
A letter sighted by Timescape Magazine's Bureau Chief in Nigeria indicates that the IBU wrote to the Nigerian Government in 2020 requesting the payment of 'hosting fee' for the fight and a letter of guarantee for the safety of visiting delegations from 132 IBU member countries for the fight. The letter has not been attended to by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare since then, sources at his office told Timescape Magazine.
The IBU had advised Bash Ali that if the Nigerian Government was not forthcoming in accepting to host the fight, he should consider accepting offers from other countries that will bring more money to the game.
Don Moose Lewis, International Boxing Union Chairman (C) HuffPost
“We want you to consider accepting the standing offer of 75 Million euros plus thirty-three percent (33%) of pay-per-view revenues from the foreign promoters for the IBU/WBF Cruiserweight World titles.
“I want you to know that because of the Covid-19 restriction of movement, the pay-per-view audience is now estimated at 30m USD-35m USD at USD100 per view for a USD3 Billion minimum revenue. Champ, with your age and a super undercard as planned, I am sure we can do 40m viewers,” the IBU Chairman, Don "Moose" Lewis said in the letter.
Timescape Magazine has learned that these offers are still valid, with promoters from Germany, UAE, and Saudi Arabia waiting to take up the hosting rights because of the peculiar mileage and enthusiasm the historic fight pitting a 65-year-old man stepping into the boxing ring in a bid to erase Hopkin's fight record has been gathering.
“This is a Guinness Book of World Record waiting for me if I step on the ring and if I win the fight, but I have vowed that I have to do this on my home soil in Nigeria even despite myriad of challenges,” Bash Ali told Timescape Magazine on Saturday, May 8.
Bash Ali, who is determined to fight in Nigeria against all odds, and despite several years of waiting is said to be doing this because of patriotism to his fatherland.
His belief is that there is no sport activity in Nigeria today that will earn a kobo for the Federal Government, that would earn an unprecedented level of positive publicity for Nigeria and above all bring honour and glory than this historic fight. All Guinness World Record Boxing Championship Fights have been held in the United States of America except for one which was held in Australia.
The event will attract to Nigeria viewers from over 132 countries, it will be watched live across the world on Pay Per View Television (PPVTV) which will bring revenue to the country excluding adverts, sponsorships, sales of souvenirs and others which could hit USD2 billion if not over for a fight that will only cost USD173 million, as per estimates made available to Timescape Magazine.
Other benefits of the hosting to Nigeria include, but are not limited to, five sports academies with Olympic Size Swimming Pools which will be built across Nigeria at the cost of USD20 million each and a USD20 million Sports Equipment Manufacturing Factory.
Timescape Magazine learned that the complete initial investment that must be prepaid by the Nigerian Government on the fight is only a fraction of the financial return to be received.
“This historical boxing card is a “KO” for all parties involved in many ways and will cement all persons and parties involved a place in history forever,” the IBU Chairman said in his letter.
Bash Ali has some outstanding feats in his name since he turned from wrestling to boxing decades ago.
Terry Ray, the United States Boxer who was proposed for induction into Indiana Boxing Hall of Fame (C) Tribune Star
The Nigerian pugilist is the only boxer in the entire world to win a world boxing championship without first boxing as an amateur. He went from zero boxing, straight to the world championship, and won the title. And he is the only boxer to win every cruiserweight boxing championship conceivable: “California Title, United States Boxing Association Title (USBA); the continental “North America Boxing Federation title (NABF)”; “World Boxing Council International (WBCI)”, twice. He is currently the “World Boxing Federation (WBF)” Cruiserweight champion, a title he won on September 9, 2000, by knocking out Terry Ray of The United States of America.