Promoter Oscar De la Hoya thinks staging fights in Saudi Arabia can be a mixed bag.

The head of Golden Boy Promotions understands that the oil-producing country can offer career-high paydays to fighters, but he is also wary of the potential long-term effects fighting in the Middle East can have on fighters’ overall marketability, especially those who are American.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prime destination for big-name fights in recent months. Last month it staged a stacked card featuring Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in separate events and next month it will host the undisputed heavyweight championship between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. And last week it was reported the country will also put on yet another high-profile event between Joshua and former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in March.

Asked to give his thoughts on the latest benefactor to enter boxing, De La Hoya offered a measured response.  

“It’s a bittersweet deal fighting in Saudi, fighting in Riyadh,” De La Hoya told FigthHubTV. “You think about OK, [Golden Boy client] Ryan Garcia vs. Devin Haney. That fight can generate between 500 (thousand pay-per-view buys) and if it hits a home run, a million homes. The gate can be incredible here in Las Vegas, right? Riyadh can pay me a boatload of money and stage the fight out there but you’re literally doing an injustice to the fans here in America, because the fight would have to be shown early, and the PR machine behind the whole event wouldn’t be the same. The fighters wouldn’t get the publicity or the recognition like fighting here in Vegas. Because when you fight here in Vegas it’s like a fire, you start a fire and that fire just takes off like wildfire all over the country.

“So, I have to weigh my questions. Do I want the quick money in Riyadh and lose the fanbase and lose the fans that the fighters need in order to progress their career? Because they’re not going to fight once, they’re going to continue to fight. And they’re not going to fight in Riyadh all the time, so I have to really weigh those options and really think about it. That’s why I have these sleepless nights all the time because I’m constantly thinking what is the next move? What’s the right move for the fighters? What’s the right move for the company?”

“Look, money is money, and it’s green,” De La Hoya added. “You know, if Riyadh is going to offer something crazy, you have to think about it.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.