Floyd Mayweather promises UAE return after showcasing his class in Abu Dhabi

Five-time world champion enjoys his return to the ring in exhibition against Don Moore

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Floyd Mayweather said he will fight again in the UAE later this year after headlining “Abu Dhabi Unity Boxing” at Etihad Arena in the capital on Saturday night.

The former five-weight world champion, who retired undefeated in 2017 following 50 professional bouts, headlined the bill with an eight-round exhibition fight against former sparring partner Don Moore.

The card had originally been scheduled for the inaugural Global Titans event in Dubai last weekend, but was on Friday moved to Abu Dhabi.

Clearly enjoying his time inside the ring, Mayweather was by far the more active of the two, often talking to Moore as he unleashed flurries of punches. The American, 45, also interacted with the crowd during rounds, much to their delight.

However, given it was an exhibition, no scores or winner was announced.

Speaking afterwards inside the ring, Mayweather thanked the UAE for hosting the event, saying he had “waited 26 years for this”.

Mayweather then promised to compete again in the Emirates before the end of the year, although he stopped short of saying against whom, adding: “It’s a secret. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag right now, but we have an opponent. And we had to choose a place. And the place I choose is the UAE.”

Not long before Mayweather took to the ring, UFC great Anderson Silva got the better of UAE Warriors lightweight champion Bruno Machado – and fellow Brazilian - in another eight-round bout.

Silva, the former UFC middleweight champion and considered by many one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time, knocked down Machado right at the end of the fifth round, connecting with a crushing right hook to floor the Abu Dhabi resident following a flurry of punches on the ropes.

To his credit, Machado recovered well to see out the contest, with no scores or winner again announced.

“First of all, I need to say thank you to everybody who came to watch the show,” said Silva, in his third boxing bout since leaving the UFC in 2020. “Everything changed at the last moment, but everyone here worked really hard to make this show.

“This is my second home, and to fight Bruno, a hero in Abu Dhabi, who’s an amazing fighter… he accepted the fight at the last minute.”

As for what’s next, Silva said: “I talked with my jiu-jitsu coach and maybe I'll fight in a jiu-jitsu tournament [here in Abu Dhabi].

The card’s only female bout, the bill’s sole title fight, was won by Belgian Delfine Persoon. The former WBC female lightweight champion defeated a gutsy Elhem Mekhaled to claim the vacant WBC silver belt, prevailing against the previously unbeaten Frenchwoman via unanimous decision. Persoon, now 47-3 in his pro career, came through the back-and-forth, 10-round encounter 97-94, 97-93, 96-94.

In the night’s opening bout, former two-time world champion – and Dubai resident - Badou Jack knocked out Egyptian opponent Hany Atiyo, in only 46 seconds.

Asked immediately afterwards how he was feeling, Jack responded: ‘I haven’t broken a sweat.”

Updated: May 21, 2022, 11:09 PM