Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Clash in Cotai: Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios to fight in Macau boxing gamble

By Jaime FlorCruz, Feng Ke and Audrey Shi, CNN
updated 2:15 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Boxing promoter Bob Arum promotes the November 24 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios.
Boxing promoter Bob Arum promotes the November 24 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manny Pacquiao to fight Brandon Rios in the "biggest" boxing match ever in China
  • Cotai Arena, where the match will take place, is located in a $2.4B resort and seats 15,000
  • Boxing was banned in China by Mao Zedong in 1959; ban was lifted in 1986

Beijing (CNN) -- Come November 24, the eyes of boxing fans will be trained on the Cotai Arena in The Venetian Macao in Macau, the venue for what organizers say will be the biggest professional boxing match ever held in China.

American Top Rank CEO Bob Arum is promoting the "Clash in Cotai" with boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao fighting Mexican-American Brandon Rios the main card.

It will be Pacquiao's first fight in China.

"It's going to be a good fight. It's going to be a one of a kind fight," Pacquiao said during a promotion tour in Beijing last week. "This is a good chance to promote boxing in China. Don't miss it."

Trafficking activist's dream comes true
Marquez knocks Pacquiao out cold
Pacquiao: I want to knock out doubters
Manny Pacquiao's greatest hits

One added attraction for Chinese fans will be the undercard fight featuring Zou Shiming, the 22-year-old boxer from southwestern Guizhou province.

With 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medals under his belt, the up-and-comer has served as the emblem for the re-emergence of boxing in China in the past decade.

Zou made his professional boxing debut at the Venetian Macao this April, winning the "Fists of Gold" match in Macau's Cotai Arena. On July 27, he won another bout against Mexico's Jesus Ortegas in the same venue.

Cotai Arena, which seats 15,000, is part of the 40-story, $2.4 billion luxury resort, The Venetian Macao, the largest single structure hotel building in Asia and the largest casino in the world.

Macau, a tiny Chinese enclave near Hong Kong, has already eclipsed the Las Vegas Strip as the world's most lucrative gambling market. Last year, the former Portuguese colony, which like Hong Kong is now a quasi-autonomous region of China, made $36 billion in gambling revenue, six times its Las Vegas counterpart.

This autumn, the ambitious Venetian Macao hopes to lure elite high-rollers along with boxing aficionados, including those in China.

It started with street brawls

Boxing in China began in the 1920s in port cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou as a street sport among foreign sailors who sparred against local fighters.

The sport spread largely unsupervised by the Chinese government, even after the Communists took over the mainland in 1949. In 1953, a boxer died after a bout in a big competition in the port city of Tianjin. Six years later, Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong banned the sport for its violent and capitalist characteristics.

It took another strongman to rehabilitate boxing in the People's Republic.

In December 1979, then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping met boxing legend Muhammad Ali in his residence, sending the message that winning medals in boxing is glorious.

Manny Pacquiao represents the best that boxing has to offer -- hope as an athlete and as a human being.
Bob Arum, CEO, American Top Rank

In 1986, the ban was lifted and teams of Chinese athletes started to train for amateur boxing competitions, including the recent Olympic Games.

Cashing in on the ring

Arum, long famed for promoting the likes of Muhammad Ali, has set his sights on the vast potential of Chinese markets by bringing two cards.

One is a world-class brawl between Pacquiao and Rios.

Arum says Pacquiao, who boasts of 10 world titles in eight different divisions, will appeal to the crowd with his athletic prowess and legendary storyline.

In between fights in the past three years, Pacquiao has served as a legislator in the Philippines, spearheading campaigns against sex trafficking while donating part of his boxing earnings to aid local hospitals and schools.

"Manny Pacquiao represents the best that boxing has to offer-- hope as an athlete and as a human being," Arum gushed in a recent press conference in Beijing. "He has done more humanitarian work than any athlete in the world and certainly more than most people in the Philippines."

THE FIGHTERS: Pacquiao rises for toughest fight

Pacquiao attributed this philanthropic drive to his impoverished childhood.

"I entered politics because I want to serve the people. I want to help them," Pacquiao told the press in Beijing. "My dream is not only to become a champion but to help people. A champion to public service."

The contenders

Brandon and Manny will be hitting each other from the opening bell to as long as they last.
Bob Arum, CEO, American Top Rank

Pacquiao's younger and taller opponent, Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios, is better known for his dynamism and bravura. The fighter from Los Angeles has gained a large following among young boxing fans because he represents "a typical young man in America," Arum noted.

Rios, wearing a baseball cap with "I heart Haters" logo, said: "I'll get ready to give Manny the best fight he ever had. He is a warrior, I am a warrior. That's our trait. It's going to be a hell of a fight."

"We want to give the fans a really exciting fight," Arum said. "Brandon and Manny will be hitting each other from the opening bell to as long as they last."

Arum's other card is the Chinese boxing sensation Zou Shiming, who Arum thinks could be polished into a superstar under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer.

"He's quite smart and a quick learner," Roach said of Zou. "He'll get better and better."

"The problem is that it is a different sport," Arum said. "Amateur boxing rewards boxers for the quantity of punches, not the quality of punches, and professional boxing is more about the quality of punches," Arum said. "We have high expectations of him improving as he goes along."

If all goes well for Arum, the Western sport of boxing might finally sink a long-delayed clinch hold over the East.

Byron Tseng, Feng Ke and Audrey Shi contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:18 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
updated 1:07 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
updated 9:52 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
updated 9:33 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
updated 1:26 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
updated 11:11 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 1:11 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
ADVERTISEMENT