The WSJ has a very cool article about boxing and its emergence in China. I already wrote an article about foreign investment and China’s attempt at creating a super league for soccer (and their failure to do so). While soccer requires commitment from a fan base by going to numerous games and buying the teams’ jerseys, boxing can be followed more passively. The promoter, the well-known Bob Arum, believes that boxing will successfully grow in China in the coming years. On Saturday China’s best boxer will be fighting in a fight that “will be the most-watched telecast in the professional sport’s history.” Pay-per-view fights in america often draw mainstream news attention for the large fights. People watch the fight or the highlights of the fight and then forget about boxing until the next blockbuster fight. It will be interesting to see where China goes from here. This fight is being aired for free in China, presumably to try and muster up a following. I don’t think the model of charging $60 for a fight will work in China but will pay-per-view style boxing matches work in China? They very well could seeing as there are so many people; the promoters could charge lower prices and still make a ton of money.
I think that boxing is indicative of the changes that China is going through as a country. Mao outlawed boxing during his reign and like a number of markets and activities, the regulations have been relaxed in the past couple of decades. It really goes to show the crazy effects of globalization. A Chinese fighter will fight in Macau after training in Las Vegas to fight Eleazar Valenzuela, a Mexican. Boxing truly is a global sport and we’ll see if China’s most marketable sports individual will shine come Saturday.