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article imageOp-Ed: Philippines could be next boxing capital of Asia

By Leo Reyes     Jul 7, 2013 in Sports
Boxing greats Muhammad Ali and Joe Frasier have been praised by Filipino boxing fans for putting Manila in the world boxing map with their famous "Thrilla in Manila" fight in 1975 at the huge Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Thrilla in Manila was the last of a three-part classic encounter between Ali and Frazier for the heavyweight championship of the world. It was likewise the end of the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier. Ali won the fight via a 14th round TKO.
As tribute to Ali's victory, a shopping mall was constructed under his name and has remained as one of the popular shopping destinations in the capital city.
Nearly four decades after the Ali-Frazier fight, boxing has become a popular sports among Filipinos. A good number of young boxers have excelled in the sport including former world champions Rolando Navarrete, Luisito Espinosa, Dodie Boy Penalosa, Brian Viloria and Nonito Donaire, among others.
But the one that gave the Philippines a great honor for having fought and won over seasoned fighters and world champions, is the eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, who remains popular despite his two successive losses.
Pacquiao is set to face Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 at the Venetian Hotel and Resort in Macau, China.
Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Promotions handles Pacquiao fights, said earlier that Pacquiao may also be doing a fight in Singapore after his bout in China.
Arum, who also promotes Pacquiao's tormentors Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, said Manila will soon become a popular venue for world-class boxing fights.
He cited the sprouting of big Las Vegas-like hotels and casinos at the "Entertainment City" along the Manila Bay shoreline.
Arum said he feels the pressure of having another "Thrilla in Manila" featuring Manny Pacquiao soon.
“You gotta understand, they filled in part of the waterfront around Manila Bay and they're building four unbelievably luxurious casinos,” Arum explained in an interview with Radio Rahim. “Those casinos should be up and running in the next year.”
Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto pose for the cameras with Top Rank s Bob Arum during the San Francis...
Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto pose for the cameras with Top Rank's Bob Arum during the San Francisco leg of their press tour last September
These Las Vegas-type casinos will need supper attractions when they finally open to the international gaming public.
Big events requiring more than 15,000 seats could be held at the existing Mall of Asia Arena near the hotel-casino complex.
“They gonna want to put an event in The Arena that's very, very close by,” said Arum “They're gonna use the Manny Pacquiao fight to bring players around Asia.”
One of these hotels/casinos, the Solaire Resort and Casino which opened to the public last March 16, will be the venue for the July 13 "Pinoy Pride XXI," a major boxing event featuring world title fights.
The main attraction for the weekend boxing event will be the WBO minimumweight championship between Merlito Sabillio of the Philippines and Jorge Estrada of Columbia and the WBO Asia Pacific super flyweight championship between another Filipino Arthur Villanueva and Arturo Badillo of Mexico.
With the opening of more international hotels and casinos in the Manila Bay area, the Philippines could be the next preferred venue for boxing, entertainment and other sports events in Asia starting next year.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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