Pacquiao vs Rios: Good morning Macau

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Among the things that newly developed China has threatened US superiority on, is that of premiere boxing event destination. As Top Rank Chief, Bob Arum has remarked on multiple occasions; there exists one casino in Macau, which can boast more annual revenue than the entire Las Vegas strip, combined.

In addition, the rate of taxation for non-US fighters is substantially lower. Arum has apparently put his money where his mouth has been, by relocating his most marketable star to the Far East.

It sure seems like a hit for Las Vegas, right?

Except for one important point - the US television audience still rules the day, night and every second in between.

This weekend's fight between global icon, Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) and the glorified punching bag known as Brandon Rios (31-1), will take place at 8am China time, on Sunday November 24th, in order to broadcast, live, at the requisite US prime time on Saturday night, November 23rd.

Let's face it, boxing and brunch probably isn't a match made in heaven.

As long as US males, 19-54 in age, remain the target demographic, Las Vegas will reign supreme. Nevertheless, I arrived in Macau expecting nothing less than Las Vegas lite. Instead, I was greeted by an under-developed, island with many vestiges of its formerly best-known status as a Portuguese fishing colony. In addition, it is not an easy destination to reach, given that it's not part of main land China, despite the fact that its closest major airport is in Guangzhou, which is a city in southern China.

It's true that the citizens of Mainland China, who live under a gambling prohibition, have a seemingly insatiable appetite to roll the dice and play their hand at anything involving chance. That said, superior gambling revenue of a casino does not necessarily equate to commensurate boxing or event revenue improvement over its competitors.


As of 8am EST time on fight day, the Pacquiao/Rios bout has yet to sell out for live gate, which is a problem in and of itself, and certainly does not bode well for potential pay-per-view revenue.

In addition, the casino atmosphere is entirely unimpacted by the morning event. If the proof is in the proverbial pudding, the Macau experiment appears to have failed.

Hang on a second; Bob Arum wasn't born last night. He's a Harvard graduate who has been in the fight game for years. Why would he do this? If there is one thing that should be known about the Chinese, they have a tremendous amount of nationalistic pride. They would love to embrace one of their own as a star in boxing. Ding ding ding.....Zou Shiming is on the undercard!

What better way to unveil the two-time gold medalist, to the broader Asian world, than to put him on Manny's undercard?

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Arum appears to be making an attempt at creating a Far Eastern pay-per-view star on the back of the possibly fading Pacquiao.

In the end, Arum and Top Rank may end up with a Chinese star in addition to a rejuvenated Pacquiao, who should blast Brandon Rios unless he proves to be a shell of his former self.

The whole thing is a tad bit awkward, but it is potentially good business.


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