Mike Tyson claims Joshua could fight in Dubai

The former heavyweight champ was in Dubai to promote a number of Fitness & Boxing Academy gyms in the region.

May 4, 2017

Mike Tyson has told a captivated Dubai audience that Anthony Joshua could, and perhaps should, be the catalyst for turning the Middle East into a boxing world hub.

The American icon was in town to officially unveil his plans for a number of Fitness & Boxing Academy gyms in the region. And his timing couldn't have been better, with the sport revitalised by last week's thunderous clash between young Britain Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at London's Wembley Stadium.

More than 90,000 people saw what is already being talked up as among the greatest heavyweight contests of recent times, a bout that saw Joshua, who spent 10 days in Dubai earlier this year, unify the division in just his 19th professional bout. 

"Whenever there is a new champion, and he is explosive like AJ, the whole game changes," Tyson, who was the youngest heavyweight world champion at the age of 20, explained. "That's what spectacular abut him, he's the right guy for the job to take our sport forward. Right from his opening act, it was amazing. I've never seen anything like that." 

Whether that purple patch will reach the UAE and a potential title fight here, Tyson added: "It has to be done here one day, and once it is done this will be a main hub for boxing. Do it once with the right person, and it will grow. I think AJ could be the right person."

Specifics about Tyson's new venture in the region were thin on the ground, but those with the man himself claimed his presence in Dubai was to help push through the final decision on locations; a definitive was expected before the end of June.

"Why not Dubai," said Tyson when asked why he was expanding his empire. "Dubai needs it and we plan to bring something really awesome here."

While there weren't many bones to pick out regarding the actual facility in the UAE, the 50-year-old New Yorker insisted he would be active from afar once it opens.

"I won't be on the day-to-day, it's tough with so many locations. But I'll be there at the HQ in Las Vegas, and that is what is most likely to open first." 

Patricia Beyeler Colombo, the business' development director added: "Our academy isn't just associated with an athlete, Mike is our leader. He might not be there day-to-day, but it's built on his philosophy.

"We want to find that diamond in the rough; there is a lot of boxers out there to find. If we are able to develop that, that's what we've chosen to do."

As well as boxing skills, classes such as pilates, cardio and weight lifting will also feature. Other centres are expected in France, Australia, New Zealand, North Africa and Cyprus.

"I've had my time, I did my stuff, it's other people's turn now," Tyson concluded.