SAN DIEGO, July 27, 2013 – Few boxing fans in America other than the most hard-core boxing heads were watching Saturday’s broadcast from Macau to see the “Fists of Gold II” series of bouts. But the primary audience of interest to Top Rank Promotions wasn’t the U.S.
Bob Arum has long wanted to establish a foothold in Macau and work up an appetite for boxing. The timing couldn’t be better. Macau wants to diversify its economy by providing alternative activities to gambling for visitors, just as Las Vegas has done so successfully. Big-ticket events that have been successful in Las Vegas like boxing is a good place to start.
The payoff potential is enormous. Macau takes in six times as many visitors annually as Las Vegas. Las Vegas would have to attract every man, woman and child in America every single year to rival Macau. Wynn Las Vegas now makes nearly three-quarters of its profits in Macau. The Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns the Venetian and Palazzo, earns two-thirds of its revenue in Macao from its two hotels there.
So think of Saturday’s fights as the pu pu platter to the upcoming bout between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios in November. A few tasty morsels, but not much of a meal.
The big show was the presser and appearances by Pacquiao and his opponent Rios, along with heavyweight champion George Foreman on behalf of Top Rank. Even the Top Rank girls were on hand. Small armies of people have to cross the Pacific to lay the groundwork for the Pacquiao-Rios fight in November. Champion Danny Garcia was also on hand.
Hometown fighter Zou Shiming (2-0, KOs) won the main event. Shiming is shouldering the hopes of Top Rank as a native son star in China. It’s a lot to ask. While Shiming has two Olympic gold medals, his six round unanimous decision was only his second professional fight. Shiming is now working with world-class trainer Freddie Roach, and showed significant improvement over his debut, handling Mexican teenager Jesus Ortega (3-2, 1 KO) with ease.
The undercard fights provided some nice action for the fans. Transplanted Russian Evgeny Gradovich won a unanimous decision over Mauricio Munoz of Argentina (26-4, 12 KOs) and kept his unbeaten record intact at 17-0, 8 KOs. Gradovich, 26, is now part of the Oxnard training complex run by the Garcia family and calls himself a “Mexican Russian.” Mexican flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada (23-2, 17 KOs) defended his WBO-WBA titles with a unanimous decision over Filipino fighter Milan Melindo (28-1, 11 KOs). Estrada knocked Melindo down in the 11th round, sealing the victory.
Meanwhile, the countdown to November 23 begins. Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) needs to restore his legacy after his stunning knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. Californian Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) has the opportunity of a lifetime in this first ever pay-per-view event from Cotai Arena. It promises to be an action-packed fight.
But for now, the money in boxing remains elsewhere. The fight will take place early on Sunday morning in Macau to maximize the prime time PPV audience in the U.S.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read Ringside Seat in Communities, follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter at @PRProSanDiego
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Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group
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