Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxing
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Hong Kong professional boxer Edwin Ng Ka-ho (centre) between We Are Champs amateur fighters Joseph Lam Chok and Derek Cheung ahead of their boxing bout. Photo: We Are Champs

We Are Champs boxing event is Hong Kong’s answer to the Paul brothers’ crossovers – but it can only be good for struggling local scene, say organisers

  • Pro boxers welcome first-ever YouTuber and KOL-filled fight card as even Floyd Mayweather Jnr tunes in
  • ‘Whether you’re a supporter or a hater, the Hong Kong people are talking about this event’ says head organiser Ng
Boxing

Love it or hate it, the Hong Kong public have been engrossed in the upcoming We Are Champs pro-celebrity boxing extravaganza at Star Hall, Kowloon Bay on Saturday.

Unless you have been living under a rock – or have not seen the billboards at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel – HKEsports founder and silver spoon kid Derek Cheung will fight lawyer-turned-influencer Joseph Lam Chok after a brewing war of words on social media going back months.
The undercard is a mix of the city’s best combat fighters and so-called KOLs (key opinion leaders), many of whom are making their amateur boxing debuts. Highlights range from local boxing star Raymond Poon Kai-ching vs former national Muay Thai champion Dylan Yiu Tat-fai, to Hong Kong YouTube favourite Jason Chau (familiarly known as “Big J”) vs Boyz band member Steven Cheung Chi-hang, among several other curious matchups.

Tickets, starting from HK$1,280, with “VVIP” tickets selling for HK$28,800, are sold out. The event’s unironic slogan “No Bull****, Let’s Go” has caught on as fans and trolls continue to discuss who will live up to the trash-talk and whose head will be bouncing off the canvas.

A view of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel with We Are Champs advertisements ahead of the event. Photo: @khdcheung/Instagram

“When I heard Derek was hosting this type of event, I thought it was amazing because before there was only really Rex Tso [Sing-yu] to lead the boxing line in Hong Kong,” said professional boxer Edwin Ng Ka-ho, head organiser of the event’s judging and referees team.

“Hong Kong has never hosted a boxing show like this. Nowadays, there are a lot of famous YouTubers and KOLs like the Paul brothers, Jake and Logan, who held really successful pay-per-views. In Hong Kong, Derek, Joseph and Big J are changing their paths to being amateur boxers. I totally support them. This is the sort of source we need to start-up the sport of boxing.”

 
Comparisons to the controversial Paul brothers’ previous boxing ventures – Logan faced Floyd Mayweather Jnr in June, while Jake beat former UFC champion Tyron Woodley last month – are not unwarranted. “Money” Mayweather himself sent Cheung a personal video message wishing him good luck for the Lam bout.
Advertisement

“[The different backgrounds and experience] means Hong Kong fans of boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA will watch and maybe even turn to the amateur boxing route. It has got the value of boxing,” said Ng, adding that the night’s pro-level coaches, referees and judges are a “dream team for any Hong Kong event”.

“Whether you’re a supporter or a hater, these two guys [Cheung and Lam] have shown their value as they have got the Hong Kong people talking about this event. Some people are supporting, some people are saying bull****, but this is boxing.

Ng (centre) between We Are Champs amateur fighters Lam and Cheung ahead of their boxing bout. Photo: We Are Champs

“It’s just like in the US, when you face off at the weigh-ins and there are fireworks to the attract the audience’s attention. All of Hong Kong is talking about ‘are you supporting Derek Cheung or Lam Chok?’”

Philip Wong Kin-ching, a Hong Kong Boxing Association and RCT Boxing coach, referee and judge, helped mediate the pair’s intense final sit-down, soon-to-be posted onto Cheung’s social media accounts.

“This event is entertaining and topical, and it’s been a long time since Hong Kong has had such a hyped boxing event. It’s not the most conventional event, but in terms of marketability in Hong Kong it’s very smart,” he said.

Hong Kong boxers and influencers at the inaugural We Are Champs pre-event press conference in Hong Kong in August. Photo: We Are Champs

“Simply put, it’s exposing the sport to lots of people, and I personally want to see if Derek really does continue his boxing venture to help the Hong Kong boxing go up a level. He previously said that he wants to commercialise and improve the level of boxing so that the next generation can be confident in taking up the sport.

Advertisement
“After the Tokyo Olympics, more people are starting to wonder if there is a future in sports in Hong Kong. This is a way to show that being an athlete is something feasible in Hong Kong. You might even make some money from it, instead of having to work a full-time job then training in your spare time,” Wong said.
Philip Wong Kin-ching, a Hong Kong Boxing Association and RCT Boxing coach, referee and judge, in one of his professional exhibition bouts in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Co-headliner Poon, previously touted as the city’s next boxing torch-bearer, returns to the ring after two years out. The 25-year-old is searching for his first win over Muay Thai star Yiu in what will be their third meeting.

Advertisement

“The last professional boxing event in Hong Kong was in 2018 and the interest in the sport has gone down. Right now, any attention on boxing is good attention. We need to keep it alive,” Poon said.

“I see there are quite a few fights with beginners or boxing debutants. Actually, I’ve been introduced to a few and they really are preparing hard for this event. Even if it’s not the most conventional event, I’m sure it will be very good to watch.”

Hong Kong boxer Raymond Poon Kai-ching in his face-off against former national Muay Thai champion Dylan Yiu Tat-fai. Photo: We Are Champs

We Are Champs’s other bouts include multiple national Muay Thai champions Ng King-chung and Kenneth Lee Kam-lam; local Muay Thai legends Stuart Chin Sze-kit and Li Yiu-tung; and social media app 17 Live stars Kathy Cheung and Ollie Wan going toe-to-toe. The fights will be streamed on YouTube.

Advertisement
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Hong Kong’s answer to Paul brothers’ ventures ‘good for local scene’
1