Boxing: Inaugural WBC fight date set

Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao talking to members of the media, shortly after arriving from the US at Manila airport on Nov 8, 2016.
Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao talking to members of the media, shortly after arriving from the US at Manila airport on Nov 8, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Talks are under way to have Manny Pacquiao at ringside on March 25 at the OCBC Arena

Boxing fans in Singapore can look forward to a tantalising showdown on March 25 when the Republic hosts its first-ever World Boxing Council (WBC) world title bout.

Zimbabwean Charles Manyuchi, whose professional record stands at 20 wins, two losses and one draw, will defend his WBC silver title (welterweight) against unbeaten contender Qudratillo Abduqaxorov of Uzbekistan (9-0-0).

The WBC silver champions are one tier below the WBC world champions, where superstars Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather used to compete.

Things could also heat up ringside. Organiser Alexander Shah told The Straits Times yesterday that he is trying to persuade Pacquiao, who is currently a senator in his native Philippines, to attend the Singapore event, which will be held at the OCBC Arena.

He is already in discussions with Pacquiao's company, Manny Pacquiao Promotions, to field their boxers in the Singapore event.

Shah, whose company Cartel Promotions is organising the fight, said: "This is the most prestigious boxing match in Singapore in many years. Right now we have one confirmed bout, but we intend to have a total of eight fights for the event.

"I'm meeting Senator Pacquiao next week and will try to convince him to come.

"He has some investments here so there is a chance."

Pacquiao had purchased a stake in local mixed martial arts organisation One Championship in 2014.

This is Cartel Promotions' fourth event here and its largest yet. The bout in March will cost more than $500,000 to stage and Shah hopes he can fill the 3,000-capacity venue in Kallang.

He said respected boxing publication The Ring has taken an interest and will be covering the event.

"Cartel Promotions is here for the long haul and we want to help promote boxing in Singapore.

"I'm confident that by bringing in more big names, we can generate interest in the wider public," said Shah, who plans to hold a total of nine events here this year.

He added that boxing could capitalise on MMA's popularity in Singapore.

Singapore Amateur Boxing Association president Syed Abdul Kadir is also hopeful more events like this can stir interest in the sport.

He said: "To promote boxing we need more events so it's good that we are hosting this bout. We need to start somewhere.

"Getting events like these in will allow our boxers to know what it takes to be a professional."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Inaugural WBC fight date set'. Print Edition | Subscribe