This year has been a fruitful year for boxing. Several high profile bouts have drawn the attention of fans worldwide and have rekindled the interest of the general public. Aside from the upcoming Rigondeaux vs Lomachenko showdown on December 9, boxing fans have already seen a blockbuster series of fights including Kovalev vs Ward, Chavez vs Alvarez, Mayweather vs McGregor, and Golovkin vs Alvarez.
With the outstanding feat that Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao has accomplished, a hope and expectation that Asian fighters may dominate the sport was ignited. Now it is imperative for the ageing Pacquiao to work on his graceful exit from the sport he once dominated as well as the search for a ‘next big thing’ in the region that could help create an all-Asian super fight.
What’s in store for the sport in Asia?
Several Asian fighters who have already established themselves in the region often aim for an opportunity to fight in the US for a big purse and wider stardom. This battle is often uphill, since a majority of fighters out of Asia are in the lower weight divisions; meaning punchers who appear in big fight cards often slug it out in the 135-pound weight class and above.
There are fighters who have opted to fight for pride in front of their countrymen including pugilists from Japan which have attracted challengers from around the globe to give the archipelago-nation a visit. Japan has 11 reigning world champions including Ryota Murata who just won his WBA middleweight title last week. The “Land of the Rising Sun” is also a home to Teiken Promotions who used to handle the careers of Jorge Linares and the late Edwin Valero.
Aside from Japan, another neighbouring archipelago has an intimate love for the sport. With a population of over 100 million, Filipinos make their presence felt every time audience participation comes into play in boxing conversation. Manny Pacquiao invokes pride and passion every time he steps into the ring as the whole Philippines stops to cheer for his fight; even making crime rates in the Metro region drop to zero during his glory days.
For a fighting venue, Macau already created its own version of Las Vegas a long time ago. The state-of-the-art Cotai Arena in Venetian Hotel and Casino took the international stage for its hosting of several big events. It is a perfect place to stage a super fight, revelling in the feel of Vegas culture in Asia.
How about Golovkin vs Murata?
Kazakh sensation Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1) is widely considered as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters today. Being renowned as one of the premier power-punchers of his generation, there is no question of his calibre as a fighter, but still, people don’t sound overwhelmingly enthusiastic towards the possibility of a rematch with Canelo Alvarez.
So what else can he do? He can gamble and set his sights on capitalising on the Asian market.
Japanese middleweight king Ryota Murata emerged victorious, looking impressive in his recent rematch battle against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam to revenge his controversial split decision loss via seventh round RTD. The former Olympic gold medalist improved to 13-1 after this win.
Speaking in the press conference after the fight, Murata expressed his desire to meet “Triple G” in the future:
“Boxing lovers will know there’s a stronger middleweight champion than me out there [referring to the unbeaten Golovkin], i’ll try my best to beat him.”
Murata clearly has a draw, but does it sound realistic to pit these two fighters together? Maybe not for now. Murata turned heads with his recent performance and now needs to prove himself more, hurdling any challenge that is thrown his way despite his tag as an ‘underdog’. Promoters and handlers look at all angles when creating business and will be assessing Murata’s worth fresh off the back of last weekend’s victory. The idea may sound too ambitious on Murata’s side, but let us forget the money, ratings, and hype. It is time to give boxing adrenaline back to where it truly belongs, to the fans.
Perhaps fate needs to play a role in bringing these two fighters together. Putting money aside, the Asian market is making too much noise to be ignored and a stroke of luck may enable a star such as Gennady Golovkin to make the journey east in one of his remaining professional fights. Whether there is a possibility that these two fighters will ever meet in the squared circle or not, one thing is for sure, a well-deserved treat needs to be given to the passionate fight fans of the region; An all-Asian blockbuster match in the age of the pay-per-view money fight.
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