HE Turki Alalshikh Challenges Naoya Inoue With Lionel Messi In a Surprising Move

Published 01/31/2024, 12:38 PM EST

Follow Us

via Getty

An invitation or a real challenge? That’s up to Naoya Inoue to decipher. But the message has come. Saudi Arabian Chairman of General Authority for Entertainment, Turki Alalshikh in a fresh social media communication reached out to the Japanese Super Bantamweight, with soccer fame, Lionel Messi also joining his efforts.

America’s Favorite Video Today

While the Kingdom of Saudi finds its footing in hosting huge combat sports events, Inoue does the same in his relentless efforts to remain the best in the ring. Last year, in December, he defeated Filipino-southpaw, Marlon Tapales, to emerge undisputed in the super bantamweight division. It was a historic moment as he became the second male fighter, following Terence Crawford, to emerge undisputed in two weight divisions in the four-belt era. On the precipice of global fame, everyone wants to fight Inoue now; and everyone wants to host his fights. So, why would HE Turki Alalshikh, the new kingpin in boxing, stagger away?

Saudi Arabia reaches out to Naoya Inoue?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In his fresh attempts to elevate Saudi’s position as a leader of force in the combat world, Alalshikh wrote a public invitation of sorts to ‘Monster’ on his Instagram. He wrote, “We challenge you Naoya Inoue.” His message, however, came with an image that definitely raised some eyebrows. He struck a pose with Lionel Messi, while he held what looked like the WBC Riyadh Championship belt that was won by Tyson Fury when he defeated Francis Ngannou.

Messi, the Inter Miami forward, and the Kingdom’s global tourism ambassador, is on a visit to Saudi. On this trip, he was also hosted by the advisor to the Royal Court, snippets of which are widely featured on Alalshikh’s Instagram.

Trending

Get instantly notified of the hottest Boxing stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

The soccer player’s visit comes ahead of his team’s face-off against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nasr on the 1st of February at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, as a part of the Riyadh Season Cup 2024.

In recent years, the Kingdom has become a hotspot for boxing, surpassing the US and the UK, given the resources they have at hand. Bringing Naoya Inoue, the Japanese pound-for-pound champion, to the kingdom would be a great next move for Alalshikh. His invitation to the Japanese fighter aligns exactly with the plans Inoue’s team has for him.

‘Monster’ Clan Eyes a Saudi Clash

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Shortly after his groundbreaking victory over Tapales, the 30-year-old, undefeated fighter’s career-long promoter, and head of Ohashi Promotions, Hideyuki Ohashi revealed that talks are happening to bring the fighter to the Middle East for a clash. Suggesting the Tokyo Dome as another option, he noted, “For [Inoue’s] next fight, I’m thinking about bigger venues, and I’m also thinking about Saudi Arabia. The Tokyo Dome is an option.”

These plans have been devised in response to a considerable number of fans who, unfortunately, found themselves on the waitlist and were unable to witness Inoue’s last three fights held at Ariake Arena, Koto-Ku, Japan. To address this issue, Inoue’s team is actively exploring alternative venues capable of accommodating a larger number of spectators, recognizing the current high demand for the fighter. Considering the good relations that the Kingdom has with Bob Arum, the other half that handles Inoue’s promotions, this looks like a deal that can be successfully materialized.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Who do you think Naoya Inoue should fight against in a Saudi fight? Let us know in the comments section below.

Watch This Story: Teofimo Lopez Reveals Why He Declined The $1.5 Million Ryan Garcia Fight Offer

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Written by:

Mohammed Shafiulla

688Articles

One take at a time

As Manny Pacquiao once said, “Boxing is not about your feelings. It’s about performance.” Through my writing, I hope to bring this performance closer to boxing fans.
Show More>

Edited by:

Gokul Pillai

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORS' PICK

America’s Favorite Video Today