Arum targets Chinese fight fans with new TV show
LAS VEGAS – Promoter Bob Arum is continuing his push to build pro boxing’s profile in China with a weekly television program devoted to the Sweet Science that will begin airing there in May.
Arum, founder of Top Rank Boxing, has already moved to tap into the potentially massive – and lucrative – Chinese audience for a sport that was banned under Mao Zedong for its violence and tang of the West.
Top Rank is carefully crafting the pro career of China’s two-time Olympic champion Zou Shiming, who made his professional debut on a Top Rank card in Macau in April of last year.
Arum also took Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao to Macau to fight American Brandon Rios last year, and he revealed the plans for the foray into Chinese TV at a press conference for Pacquiao’s world title rematch with Timothy Bradley on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
He said Zou’s wife, former CCTV anchor Ran Yingying, will be the presenter of an hour-long weekly program, which will feature live and archival fight footage as well as interviews and other features.
Top Rank’s Brad Jacobs said the show, which is to be distributed on various regional networks in China would aim to educate as well as entertain.
“We’ll be doing a lot of raw material in Vegas and sending it there and they’ll be putting the finishing touches on it for a Chinese audience,” Jacobs said.
Top Rank still don’t know if the boxing audience in China will differ much from that in the West in terms of demographics or interests, but they do know the potential audience is big.
“We’re doing huge numbers in terms of viewing audience compared to what you do in the US,” Jacobs said. “It appears there’s a really hungry fan base for it, so we’re going to try to deliver entertainment and educate.”
Top Rank’s burgeoning links to China can eventually serve another purpose, Jacobs said, providing a pipeline of talent as the country’s amateur boxers begin to eye professional careers.
“With the popularity of Shiming, we’re getting calls and e-mails and texts every day now on prospective fighters that want to turn pro,” he said.