Top Rank Signs Gold Medal-Winning Chinese Boxer Zou With Eye On Asian Market
Top Rank on Tuesday signed two-time Gold Medal-winning Chinese boxer Zou Shiming to a professional contract, and he "has the potential to change the very nature of the sport," according to Kevin Iole of YAHOO SPORTS. Zou became the "first Chinese boxer to win an Olympic medal when he earned a bronze at light flyweight" in '04. Getting Zou signed and set to "headline a show is going to fast forward his dream of making Asia a major market for American promoters." One possibility of "what it could mean is that some major fights that were previously destined for a Las Vegas casino could wind up in an Asian casino." It "doesn't necessarily mean that all of the top pay-per-view shows would head to China, but it will clearly present an alternative" to Las Vegas, L.A. and N.Y. if "timing logistics can be worked out." Boxing PPV shows in the U.S. "generally begin" at 9:00pm ET, when it would be 8:00am the following day in Macau. Zou will "headline his pro debut April 6 in Macau." Iole: "Long-term, though, Top Rank could have stars such as Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire featured on major shows there." The "issue preventing it from occurring" is that PPV emanating from outside the U.S. have "historically done poorly." Top Rank Chair Bob Arum "estimated a loss" of as much as 50% of potential sales. If that can be "overcome, a floodgate could be opened and the Asian market could quickly become a legitimate pay-per-view destination" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/6).