All promotion is about smoke and mirrors to some extent, and none more so than in boxing promotion. I’ve written before about the massaged truth behind exactly how many are actually watching boxing in China (rather than the “estimated” numbers, which are often then reported as fact).
Zou Shiming moved to 3-0 in his professional career with a one-sided points decision over Mexican Juan Tozcano in their six-round fight in Macau last weekend, but was it a convincing performance or just another tomato can victory? Again, it depends on who you believe. It’s telling, though, that six months into his China venture, Zou’s promoter Bob Arum has already conceded that the pay-per-view model won’t work (at least at the moment). That PPV model, of course, was the big reason why Arum tried to crack the China market in the first place.
Arum said Top Rank would stage another three fights in Macau next year, as well as one in Singapore, so there will be plenty of chances for Zou to develop. He needs to keep winning (obviously), but he also needs to fight some opponents who are widely considered to be title contenders, not just hyped as such by his promoters. Here’s an extract from today’s Sports Talk column:
At 32, he could still win a world title, but his age dictates that the timeline to global glory must be condensed, and he is still some way from being able to go a full 12 rounds in the ring, with Sunday’s fight only a six-round bout. We will know a lot more in a year’s time. Zou could be world champion and Arum may have a genuine shot at getting Chinese customers to pay to watch his fights, however small the amount. But if Zou’s world title bid is derailed, it will be back to the drawing board both for Chinese boxing and for Arum’s master plan.
Top of Sunday’s bill was Manny Pacquiao in his comeback fight and he also scored a convincing points victory against his opponent, American Brandon Rios, in what was Asia’s richest fight in history. Cue more endless talk about a fight with Floyd Mayweather, but it’s likely that any showdown would be in the US and not in Macau. It’s great to have top-level sports events in China, but it’s debatable whether the Pacquiao fight did much to boost the popularity of boxing here. The big hopes still rest with Zou.