By Jake Donovan
For nearly two years, Bob Arum has targeted Singapore as a potential future location to stage events, floating the location in the same aggressive manner in which he eventually made boxing in Macau a reality. That dream threatens to come to fruition in 2014, as the Hall of Fame promoter has now attached a timetable for which he plans to expand boxing business in Asia.
Tonight will mark Top Rank’s third event at the Venetian Macao, as Manny Pacquaio ends a near-year long hiatus to return to the ring as he faces former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios. While the bout will mark the last piece of boxing business at the luxury resort in 2013, plans are in store to return twice in 2014 along with a stop in Singapore later in the year.
“We'll be back February 22, then again in the spring,” Arum promised when interviewed following Friday’s weigh-in. “After that, we're talking about going to Singapore in October.”
Singapore was part of the summer press tour spanning 40,000 miles across the globe to promote tonight’s event. For as long as Arum has targeted the nation as a possible future boxing hotbed, naturally associated with such plans was Pacquiao, his company’s biggest star and a revered hero in the Philippines and throughout Asia.
Selling such an idea further beyond talk required getting Pacquiao in a major event outside of the United States. His showdown with Rios tonight marks his first appearance in Asia in more than seven years, when he outpointed former 122 lb. titlist Oscar Larios in his native Philippines in July ’06.
The expected location for Top Rank’s venture into Singapore would be the Marina Sands Bay Resort. Both the Marina Sands and the Venetian Macao are properties of their parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., with whom Top Rank enjoys a tremendous working and business relationship.
A pair of boxing events were staged at the Marina Sands Bay Hotel in 2012, both involving featherweight titlist Chris John. The unbeaten Indonesian proved to be a big hit, scoring dominant wins over Shoji Kimura and Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in headlining bouts of events that entertained in the ring and in between bouts.
As was the case prior to Top Rank setting up shop in Macau this year, there exists the opportunity to survey the landscape by first watching another entity in action.
Just as the UFC successfully took its business to Macau last year, the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotional outfit takes its hit reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” to both the Venetian Macao and Marina Sands Bay in 2014. The move will be preceded by “UFC Singapore”, which lands at Marina Bay next January.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox