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Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao next fight: more Chinese boxers on undercard after Tencent snub Lucas Matthysse bout in Kuala Lumpur

Filipino world champion is looking at a potential US$1 billion market in China for his future fights

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 9:59am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 10:29pm

Manny Pacquiao reportedly missed out on a China broadcast windfall after internet giant Tencent pulled out of his Kuala Lumpur fight with Lucas Matthysse at the eleventh hour – but his management company has vowed not to make the same mistake when he fights again.

The Filipino boxer is most likely to step back in the ring in November, and more Chinese fighters are expected to fill the undercard.

Arnold Vegafria, Pacquiao’s business manager and business head of his management company MP Promotions, said he was stunned to receive a call two days before the July 15 fight against Matthysse telling him there was no official television or online coverage of the fight in China.

“I was so disappointed with the [unnamed Malaysian] agency,” Vegafria told the South China Morning Post. “I got a call from China saying there was no broadcast for pay-per-view or OTT [Over The Top online broadcast].

“We were talking to Tencent but they turned it down at the last minute. There was a miscommunication with the marketing agency we hired in Malaysia. They did not deliver.

“I found out there was nothing for China, not even free TV. We didn’t have time to give other platforms a chance. But we won’t make the same mistake again.”

Manny Pacquiao claims his first knockout win in nine years as he stuns welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia

The lack of China viewers meant fans in the mainland were unable to watch Lu Bin (1-1) lose out to Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales (21-0-1) in their thrilling WBA light flyweight title bout. In a dramatic end to the fight, Canizales stopped the clock at 2:59 of the 12th after sending Lu to the canvas.

The 39-year-old Pacquiao (60-7-2), who has held world titles in eight divisions, resurrected his career with a seventh-round TKO over Matthysee (39-5) in their World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

It was the first time he had stopped an opponent inside the distance in nine years and he showed the familiar speed and power that made him one of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers at his peak.

It also gave him the confidence to continue his career in the ring and his management team is now scouting around for his next opponent.

Manny Pacquiao v Lucas Matthysse fight undercard: China’s Lu Bin leaves ring on stretcher wearing oxygen mask

An extended career will also allow Pacquiao the chance to put more mainland fighters on the undercard. Pacquiao, who is also a politician and serves on the Philippines senate, is working with MP Promotions to develop boxing in China and it has nine mainland fighters in its stable.

They hope the presence of Chinese fighters would boost interest in boxing in the mainland and allow Pacquiao access to hundreds of millions of potential pay-per-view fans.

Joaquin Henson, well known in the Philippines as a sports analysts, was quoted in the media as saying promoters are desperate to make inroads into the Chinese boxing market.

“If each pay-per-view subscription sells for US$10, with a conservative audience of 100 million, total revenues would amount to US$1 billion,” said Henson, quoting a figure more than two-and-a-half times more than the US$400 million PPV gross in the Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather bout.

Vegafria said to expect more boxers from China at Paquiao’s next fight.

“We are trying to promote sports within the Asian region and because China is starting to like combat sports, especially boxing, we want to help more boxers from China. It is a big market,” said Vegafria.

“The Philippines and Senator Pacquiao have good relations with China. We want to build up our relationship. We want to have more boxers from China on the card and that will stir interest among Chinese fans.”

Lu was attempting to match a record in being the fastest to a world title as a professional but he ended up being taken out of the arena on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.