China's 'boxing belt and road' in Pacquiao vs Matthysse
China's Belt and Road Initiative will be at play in the undercards of the title fight between the Philippines' fighting Senator Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse of Argentina on Sunday in Malaysia.
Two of the undercard battles will feature Chinese fighters who were taken in by Pacquiao's MP Promotions firm.
China's Yongqiang Yang will face Harmonito dela Torre of the Philippines, while Lu Bin, an Olympic boxer, is chasing boxing history as he guns for a world title in just his second professional bout.
Lu is set to face Venezuela's Carlos Canizales in a 12-round match for the WBA light flyweight belt at the Axiata Arena. If he wins, Lu will be the first ever to snag a world title in just two matches.
Pacquiao's boxing promotions company hopes to unearth the next Chinese world champion and help grow the sport in China.
Filipino sports analyst Joaquin 'Quinito' Henson reported last November 2017 that the Chinese government had approached Pacquiao to promote boxing in China, to which Pacquiao agreed.
Henson said that boxing promoters could make a killing even if they get only a slice of the Chinese pay-per-view (PPV) market. "If each pay-per-view subscription sells for $10, with a conservative audience of 100 million, total revenues would amount to $1 billion," he said, higher even than the $400 million PPV gross in the Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather bout.
Prior to his title bout on Sunday, Pacquiao's MP Promotions had welcomed to its training camp in General Santos City nine Chinese fighters.
"There is no good professional boxing trainer in China because professional boxing in the country has only 4 or 5 years history," Tian Ye, boxing coach and matchmaker in China, told ABS-CBN News on Thursday.
Last December, Pacquiao and Chinese sports-development firm Dancing Sports held a signing ceremony that included plans to build a Manny Pacquiao International Boxing Academy in Beijing.
Zhou Wenxin, chairman of Dancing Sports, had said that their tie-up with Pacquiao would deepen Chinese-Philippine relations in boxing and beyond.
The academy will draft in coaches from abroad to help develop Chinese boxing, which has never had a truly world-class fighter.
China’s most famous boxer, Zou Shiming, lost his WBO flyweight belt when he was knocked out by Japan’s unfancied Sho Kimura in his first defense last year.
When Pacquiao’s plans for China were first announced in 2014, he said that he believed the partnership could help thaw frosty ties between the Philippines and China, who were engaged in a maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
Relations have since improved considerably under current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. -- reports from Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News and Agence France-Presse
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