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Which sport is more popular in the Middle East – boxing or WWE?

The Middle East is an area with a huge love of all things related to combat sports and martial arts. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that boxing and WWE are two of the most popular in the area. However, how do the two compare when it comes to popularity, and what are the biggest reasons behind its success in the Middle East?

What Is Boxing?

Boxing is arguably the most popular form of combat sport in the world, as fans from around the globe tune in to watch the biggest fights taking place. Huge purses are available for the most lucrative bouts, with these more often than not taking place on PPV. Boxing has come a long way from the Prizefighting days, with the sport now being one of the most tightly regulated, with the WBC, WBO, and IBF among those that have world titles.

Professional boxing fights are ones that are sanctioned by a governing body, with both fighters involved getting a share of the purse. In this modern-day of boxing, fights now last for twelve three-minute rounds. Fights were historically longer, as many fights between the 1920s and 1980s lasted for 15 rounds. However, this was reduced to 12 across the board by 1988 due to safety and television reasons. Fighters would typically be looking for the knockout finish, but points are also scored by three judges at ringside. One of the most popular factors when it comes to boxing is betting. Gamblers can find boxing betting websites to make wagers on the fighter that will come out on top in their upcoming bout.

What is the WWE?

When it comes to professional wrestling, there are no companies that come close to the global success enjoyed by the WWE. Millions of fans from around the world watch the hours of weekly television produced by the sports entertainment company. The WWE hosts over 450 live events from around the world throughout the year. The name of the company has changed a number of times since its inception as the WWF in 1982. WWE sees two or more superstars involved in matches with a predetermined outcome.  However, some of the acrobatics and power that are on show in WWE rings can be matched anywhere else in the world. Fans are engrossed by the action throughout the year, with Raw and SmackDown taking place on Monday and Friday, respectively. However, the biggest shows are the PPVs that take place at least once a month. The biggest of these is WrestleMania, which takes place annually in April. It is the most prominent show of the year, with the biggest stars in the company taking to the ring to put it all on the line for the fans.

Comparing the Success of Boxing and WWE in the Middle East

The success of professional wrestling and boxing in the Middle East has been profound throughout the history of both. Boxing in the Middle East has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with the world heavyweight championship fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua taking place in Saudi Arabia back in December 2019. Hosting events in the Middle East is something that the WWE have also tapped into to ensure that their popularity remains high.  The first WWE show in Saudi Arabia took place in April 2014, but since 2018, the company have been broadcasting PPVs from the county. The most recent PPV in Saudi Arabia was called Crown Jewel and saw Roman Reigns defend his Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar in the main event. Hosting events in the Middle East has led to success for both the WWE and boxing, and it looks set to continue for years to come.

Who Are the Biggest Boxing Stars in the Middle East?

The hosting of boxing events in the Middle East have made huge stars of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury in the area. The popularity of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is also high within the area. However, few boxing stars will ever be able to get close to the level of popularity achieved by Muhammad Ali. Considered by many to be the greatest of all time, his Muslim heritage has ensured that he is considered to be the most popular boxer in the Middle East.  Ali’s involvement outside of the ring was as important as the work he did in boxing, as he supported racial integration in the United States. However, his bouts against Joe Frazier remain amongst the most popular in the sport, and ensure that his legacy in the Middle East is as strong as ever despite his death in 2016.

Who Are the Biggest Wrestling Stars in the Middle East?

There is yet to be a huge Middle Eastern WWE star, but that doesn’t mean that certain superstars aren’t still popular in the area. Stars such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Roman Reigns are global celebrities, which means their stock is very high in the Middle East. However, the superstar that all fans wanted to see when he traveled to the Middle East for shows in Saudi Arabia was The Undertaker.  Taker is one of the most instantly recognisable stars in the world of wrestling, and enjoyed a career that spun over 30 years in the WWE. His final standard match in the WWE came at the Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia in 2020, as he defeated AJ Styles to set up their WrestleMania match just a couple of months later.

And the Judge’s Decision Is

It’s likely that the popularity of boxing and the WWE will continue for decades to come in the Middle Eastern. Both will continue to host huge shows in the countries, which will mean that fan support will stay high. However, when it comes to opting for the most popular, it is just too close to call.

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