Boxing-Ali takes only a minute to win first female pro fight in Saudi

By Thomson Reuters Aug 20, 2022 | 1:29 PM

(Reuters) – British-Somali super-bantamweight Ramla Ali took little more than a minute on Saturday to win the first sanctioned female professional boxing bout held in Saudi Arabia.

The 32-year-old stopped Crystal Garcia Nova after one minute and five seconds of the first round in Jeddah with a smacking right hand to the chin, sending the Dominican’s mouthguard flying out of the ring.

The technical knockout, on the undercard to the heavyweight title clash between Ukraine’s defending world champion Oleksandr Usyk and Britain’s Anthony Joshua, took Ali’s pro record to seven wins from seven fights.

“I feel like I need to go back and do some more pads. I didn’t really get out of first gear,” she told Sky Sports television.

The 2020 Olympian, a former refugee who fought in Tokyo for Somalia and has modelled for fashion magazines, said she hoped to get a world title shot sooner rather than later.

“It will be nice to get a 10-rounder in next,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to having a little break now. My last two fights I’ve been training and competing with a fractured wrist and fractured toe.

“I really need to take some time off now. This was just such a massive opportunity I couldn’t say no to (it) even though I was in the world of pain.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said the evening was about making history.

“World titles are nice but this is historic, this is legacy in itself,” he said.

“World championships in 2023 definitely… I believe she will be a world champion next year.”

Ali had drawn criticism from rights campaigners for describing Saudi Arabia as a ‘very progressive country’ in the run-up to the fight.

“This fight is yet more sportswashing as Saudi Arabia tries once again to distract from its appalling human rights record,” said Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of priority campaigns.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)