Ramola Ali needed just over a minute on Saturday to win the first recognized professional boxing match for women in Saudi Arabia.
The 32-year-old stopped Crystal Garcia Nova a minute and five seconds into the first round in Jeddah with a right to the chin that sent the Dominican’s mouthguard flying out of the ring.
Ali improved her record to seven wins in seven fights with a technical knockout in the heavyweight bout between Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, the reigning world champion, and Britain’s Anthony Joshua.
“I feel like I need to go back and do more drills. I didn’t get out of first gear,” she told Sky Sports television.
The 2020 Olympian, a former refugee who fought for Somalia in Tokyo and modeled for fashion magazines, hopes she will get a shot at the world title soon.
“It would be nice to have a 10-round fight,” she said. “I’m looking forward to taking a little break. In my last two fights, I’ve been training and fighting with a broken wrist and toe.
“I really need to take some time off. This was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t say no, even though I was very sore.”
Organizer Eddie Hearn said the evening was destined to make history.
“World titles are nice, but this one is historic, it’s a legacy in itself,” he said.
“The 2023 World Championships are definitely…. I think she’ll be world champion next year.”
Ali had drawn criticism from human rights activists ahead of the meeting for calling Saudi Arabia a “very progressive country.”
This match is another attempt by Saudi Arabia to divert attention from its dire human rights record,” said Felix Jakens, head of focus campaigns at Amnesty International UK.