$ 40 billion is the astonish amount of money generated from the gambling business in Macau in 2012, seven times Las Vegas revenue.
This looks like the very real reason to have one of the more exiting 2013 boxing matches fought in Macau Venetian casino, even if the official motivation was to give the opportunity to the Filipino fans to see their idol live; so why not Manila instead?
Anyway for me, living in Hong Kong, this was a golden opportunity to attend a top event, as I was dreaming since years.
I truly believe that the USA is the place where great boxing events belong. More than half of the best 100 prize boxers are Americans by origin or living and training there.
In Europe, from where I come from, boxing has a long tradition too; we had and we have some very good fighters there and all of them, once arrived at the top of their game, willing or not, start to fight in the US to have their name raised to international level and make big money too.
I’m curious to see the payperview numbers outcome of the Pacquiao Rios fight but I will be even more curious to know if, looking the match on TV, it looked as any other big match from Vegas or New York or something smelled wrong.
Because, I can tell you, something was wrong in Macau.
It wasn’t a fight night. That’s for sure, no night at 10 am, even in China!
But it’s not this; something was missing there but what?
Fighters were there, in flesh and bones and the Tecate’s girls also, with something extra too.
I finally got it. The fans were wrong.
I got it when on the mega screens appeared Miguel Angel Cotto who was one of the stars attending the event. Silence. No one cheered.
Followed immediately by Ruslan Provodnicov. Embarrassed silence again and a question floating in the Cotai Arena like a ghost: - who the hell are these guys? -. Then finally the audience got the right answer on hand and grabbed it exploding in a giant ovation: Paris Hilton had appeared on the screen.
I know what you are thinking, I’m old, even if I’m younger than Hopkins I’m older than Arum, much older. Bob understands globalization, new markets, new worlds; he is the first to realize that the future of economy has to be the future of boxing too.
Well, maybe. Maybe in a hundred of years Chinese tourists going to Macau for gambling will be passionate and competent boxing fans as American, Mexican or English are.
But hey, wait a moment! What am I talking about? We are boxing fans and at the end of the day, what we want are genuine good fights. It doesn’t really matter if they are fought in Vegas or in Macau or even in Ouagadougou.
And here starts the problem for us.
It was not too evident in the undercard matches, which were good fights, even if in some way not too much intensity was involved. Tor Hamer took no more that 10 good shots from the brilliant Andy Ruiz Jr. to decide to call the night ( morning) and Billy Dib suicidal attitude did not take too long to convince his trainer to stop the fight. Nobody minded it.
What was going on was very clear with the Pacquiao Rios fight that was one of the smoother fights I ever seen.
I mean, all boxing fans, at home, were expecting a war but at Macau Venetian the two fighters were not pushed from the very green audience to do more than what they were doing. The many Filipinos in the arena were politely cherishing all Pacquiao’s shots and from the beginning the fight took a turn that was ok for the public in attendance.
Everybody who stepped in a ring knows the difference between a sparring session and a fight: even in a tough sparring session, you do not have to prove something to hundred or thousand who paid a ticked to see you to fight and who knows what a boxing fight is about.
Ask to Carl Froch and George Groves why they fought a hell of a fight Saturday night.
To me Manny Pacquiao failed to regain his place in the top pound4pound list, because he needed a great victory. He needed a big knockout victory, to remove his knockout loss against Marquez from the collective memory and this match was made with this purpose.
It would have mean to take risks, even if much less than with Marquez, so why Manny took the risk with Marquez but did not with Rios?
The answer is probably the same that Rios gave when he was asked why, even knowing he was losing the match, wasn’t trying to get a knock out. His answer was astonishing honest: - Because I knew that trying to get a knock out I was possibly going to be knock out myself-.
Did you hear that? This is not Brandon Rios, I told to myself, not the same guy we know. In fact, he was another guy, fighting in a place where the most of the people looking at him could have been looking at a Sampras Federer fake tennis match instead, if a tennis match was scheduled at Macau on the 23rd November 2013.
A quite ominous day, in boxing history.
Somebody made an extra lot of money because Pacquiao Rios was fought in China’s Vegas but in the bright sunny Macau’s night, boxing lost a big opportunity for a great fight to materialize.