Zizo Almaayouf’s Journey From Saudi Arabia To International Boxing Prominence
Ziyad ‘Zizo’ Almaayouf is is the first Saudi Arabian boxer to win a professional fight, and is quickly making a name for himself appearing on some of the biggest cards in boxing.
Almaayouf has expressed a desire to become a world champion. If he continues to develop and improve, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the super lightweight division. In his most recent fight, on September 23, 2023, Almaayouf defeated Georgi Velichkov by unanimous decision at the O2 Arena in London, England.
In a recent interview with Zenger, Zizo opened up on his next steps in the ring, hopes for representing his country in the international arena and being an inspiration to the next generation. He fights this weekend on a massive card in Saudi Arabia which will see multiple former heavyweight world champions in action.
Zenger: What is next for you in the ring?
Zizo: After a trailblazing start of fighting on the biggest and most influential cards of the years since the historical debut; excitingly, next for me in the ring is to keep fighting internationally as much as I actively am able to. Continue to represent my country in Saudi Arabia, being a flag bearer and a key pillar in Vision 2030, showcase my fighting ability, unwavering heart, and of course, the smile that comes with the flashy personality.
Fighting on those big cards, in front of an international audience is a big privilege and opportunity for me, not only to inspire an upcoming generation of Saudi and Arab fighters on a larger scale, but to also really connect and gain an international fanbase. Fighting abroad internationally with such high exposure is a way to connect with the foreign audience, and with that, most importantly, carry a torch of unity between two sides of the world. In a story that is larger than boxing, or as many would call it,
larger than life, this is the real purpose.
Zenger: What does it mean to fight in Saudi Arabia in what for you is a homecoming fight after having been away for your recent bouts?
Zizo: Fighting in Saudi Arabia for me are the nights that I get to become a real-life Superhero. It always feels like a Hero’s homecoming. I can never put into words enough how it really feels, but the emotions, excitement, and support I get from the Saudi people when it is time to fight back home, is unmatched. Fighting in Saudi Arabia gives me too much motivation, inspiration, and just too much greatness that I’d ever let myself and let the Saudi people down when fighting
the big fight in front of them. Fighting in Saudi Arabia is always a win or win. I am lifted by the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Zenger: How do you see the sport growing in Saudi Arabia?
Zizo: I see Saudi Arabia continuing their pursuit of making the Kingdom the number one location and the face of the sport of boxing.
Under the guidance and influence of The Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman, the work done by the minister of sports HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki-Alfaisal, and the work that is being done now by Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, HE Turki Alalshikh, the only way is up now for boxing as a sport, and boxing in Saudi Arabia.
It is very important when speaking about the future of boxing in Saudi Arabia, to also speak about the Ecosystem of the sport in the Kingdom. As a result of the huge boxing events being made in Saudi Arabia, the general public being influenced and inspired by the visiting athletes, their achievements, and the workshops that they occasionally do when visiting; we’ve seen a 500% jump in local boxer participants, a 200% jump in boxing gyms established, even a 150% jump in female participation in sports in general, as well as 50% of the population across the country now participating in physical activity every week.
The sport of boxing growing in Saudi Arabia is great, not only for The Kingdom, but also the sport itself. As Saudi Arabia now undoubtedly becomes the modern Mecca of boxing, the sport is reaching its peak and pinnacle in getting the best fights made, and resurrecting the sports audience and investments once again. As a flag bearer for Saudi Arabia boxing, it is an honour to play a role in the countries rise in the sport, as they have me rise in the professional boxing ranks.
Zenger: What did you think of Tyson Fury’s last big fight?
Zizo: Tyson Fury’s last big fight against Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia was a thing of magic. There has never been such a proper global promotion, and organization for a fight, like Saudi Arabia did for this one. Being there on the ground representing the sport, as the face of boxing in The Kingdom, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing around me. The work done by HE Turki Alalshikh and the General Entertainment Authority for this fight was a thing of beauty, as well as a lesson in tactical and strategic promotion for a boxing fight, and a huge boxing heavyweight legend such as Tyson Fury. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the sport of boxing in Saudi Arabia.
There is only one sentence that could describe Tyson Fury’s performance in his last big fight, “this is boxing.” I believe it was just an off night for Tyson Fury, and that is perfectly natural and okay to happen for professional boxers and athletes at that level. As long as they get the job done at the end, that is all that matters, and that is what Tyson Fury did. Us boxers have a lot more pressure and weight on our shoulders than supporters and the general public see. The fighters handle that weight and pressure to deliver the result at the end, that is the fight won, not the battle inside the ring.
Zenger: Saudi Arabia is going to host the World Cup and the World Expo. What are you more looking
Zizo: Saudi Arabia winning the bid to host the World Cup and the World Expo 2030 is a monumental and historical moment for the Kingdom. Under the phenomenal and inspiring leadership of
Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman, the bid that has won us to host World Expo 2030 is a huge target achieved.
That is why, World Expo 2030 in Riyadh is what I’m looking forward to most. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the people’s choice, it was the people who voted for Saudi Arabia to host the Expo, and this brings such joy to mine and the Kingdom’s heart. 2030 is the closing year to Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia, which will see the Vision of our leadership and transformation completely fulfilled. It is exciting to host and welcome the world at that time during World Expo 2030, and to have the world see the changes, advancements, and future in Saudi Arabia.
-Judy Rotich contributed to this story.
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.