by Vitali Shaposhnikov & Linda Schwarz: Where would you place Macau China on a list of the top ten boxing sites in the world? Might holding major world championship bouts there be a viable option for the next foreseeable future? If Bob Arum has anything to say about it, sometime in the near future, he would place it in the number one spot!
What draws boxing fans to Las Vegas? Vegas has an other world, surreal feeling. The bright lights, the crush of the crowds, the huge venues that hold thousands of eager, passionate fans all create an atmosphere of excitement and palpable energy. However, is all of this glitz enough to fend off the quickly rising empire what is fondly known as “the Asian market?”
First a small history lesson. After the turnover of Hong Kong in 1999, Sheandon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands) and Steve Wynn (Wynn Resorts) saw a promising new market. By 2006, just seven short years after the discovery of its potential, Macau’s revenues surpassed the Strip in casino revenue. Last year, that revenue skyrocketed to a staggering $45.1 billion, or seven times that of the so called Sin City. Some have called Macau, “Las Vegas on steroids.”
That is all well and good for the gaming tables, but what does this have to do with boxing? The old saw: Follow the Money! That is exactly what many others, including Justin Bieber, Rihanna and the Stones, David Bechman, and the Dream Works gang (Shrek and Kung Fu Panda on Ice!) have all done. And the pie gets even sweeter. In 2013, Arum received a call from Shen Li asking if he might be interested in signing Lou Shiming, a two time Olympic gold winner. For Arum, a light went on: Asia has a billion potential PPV buyers! He could clearly see the money arrow pointing far across the Pacific Ocean and he quickly booked two events headlined by Shiming, both of which were huge successes for both the casinos and for the PPV Empire.
Arum appears to be banking on volume in Asia. He envisions a $5 to $6 PPV fee, a paultry sum in the U.S., but multiply that by 20 million buyers (less than 2 percent of the Chinese population) or $100 million in revenue…a bright arrow indeed! Max Kerllerman also weighed in, “Could I see Americans like Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Tim Bradley fighting in Macau: Absolutely. Stack the money high enough and it will be too much for anyone to turn down.”
Larry Merchant may have summed it up best; “This is an intriguing part of boxing’s globalization,” Merchant said. “What’s intriguing is the newness and the numbers. The number of zeros on the estimates are staggering, unprecedented and tantalizing to a promoter. Where it goes, nobody knows.”
Merchant was right, and now it seems that the picture is getting clearer: It’s time to pressure the fighters and the promoters to start elevating their marketing efforts in China.
For those of you that read the whole article, here is the correct answer to the opening question: Dallas Texas is in the tenth place. The rest of the cities follow in order to Las Vegas, where for a while at least, remains in the number one position: Carson City California, Mexico City Mexico, San Antonio Texas, Stables Center Los Angeles, Manchester England, London England, Atlantic City New York, Las Vegas Nevada.