Just weeks after buying his first holiday home in Dubai, two-time world boxing champion Amir Khan said he wants to bring the next big sporting event to the city.
The British-Pakistani boxer, who was recently named president of the World Boxing Council Middle East, said Dubai was the perfect spot to attract sports fans from across the world.
He said the success of the UFC's Fight Island Series in Abu Dhabi only served to highlight how successful blockbuster sporting events can be in the UAE.
The 39-fight veteran has not ruled out lacing up for his gloves for a boxing bonanza in the emirate.
“Being president of the WBC Middle East gives me the opportunity to host big events over here,” said Khan, who also clinched a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens at the age of only 17.
“Look how successful the UFC Fight Island was, Dubai could definitely rise to the occasion and host a mega boxing event.
“People love to come here on holiday so why not make it a destination for sporting showdowns too.
“I could help bring big fighters out here and I’d even be willing to fight in the debut match.”
The decorated fighter was speaking at a meet and greet hosted by Rising Stars, an initiative founded by Dubai resident Rahima Amiraly to support people with disabilities.
The event was hosted in collaboration with WBC Cares and the Amir Khan Foundation, which work to support disadvantaged children through sports.
After laying down roots in Dubai, the 34-year-old said he wants to spend more time in the city over the next few years to build up the boxing scene in Dubai.
“Boxing has been such an important part of my life. I was a very hyperactive kid and my dad sent me to the gym to burn that energy off,” he said.
“I’d love to set up boxing academies and gyms here to help other children that were like me to find their path.
“It’s also so important to make children of determination feel included and become the rising stars they want to be.
“Maybe we could even help produce a champion boxer in the Middle East.”
Khan, who has no plans to retire any time soon, said he hopes to get back in the ring himself next year. And when it comes to his first opponent, he said his first choice would be British boxer Kell Brook.
"I think it’s time to put him in his place and I’m up for the challenge,” he said.
“I remember in a previous interview I said I wanted to retire at 28. I’m 34 now and have no plans to throw in the towel yet, I love the sport too much, it’s my life.”
Rising Stars was launched earlier this year to help people of determination reach their goals through sport, art, dance and music.
On Monday, the sporting star met with nine pupils from the initiative and told them never to give up on their dreams.
“When I would lose a fight I used to read the comments online saying I was finished, my career was over, but I never let it stop me,” he said.
“The best advice I can give you is never let someone else have the power to make you give up.”