ONE Championship has revealed that it is adding boxing to the combat sports to be contested in ONE Super Series. Recently, the organization’s big boss Chatri Sityodtong expressed his interest in inviting Filipino boxing legend to defend his title in the league.
In line with ONE Championship’s strategy of developing local and homegrown mixed martial arts athletes, the promotion ventured and scouted talents into new markets like Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, India and Vietnam as well as untapped areas of the Middle East, China and Russia. At a press conference in Manila, Philippines three months ago, Sityodtong hinted plans to establish a professional boxing league in addition to ONE Super Series, inviting boxers from all over the globe to join the promotion.
If there is one athlete who put Asia on the map of the international sporting scene, it is Pacquiao. The boxing superfighter’s in-ring achievements speak for itself as he is the only pugilist in history to capture major world titles in eight different weight classes and was long rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world by most sporting news and boxing websites.
However, boxing’s popularity in the Asian region is slowly ebbing due to several factors, including Pacquiao’s imminent exit from the sport and the growing reputation of another form of combat sport like mixed martial arts. Boxing promoters such as Bob Arum of Top Rank tried to replicate Pacquiao’s magic and rise to stardom with Chinese boxer Zou Shiming, but the 86-year-old American businessman failed to get the desired result.
As the demand for boxing continues to wane in Asia, the sport has found an unlikely ally in ONE Championship, a mixed martial arts organization that was established in Singapore seven years ago. Already solidified itself as one of the premier mixed martial arts promotions in the world, ONE Championship has set its sights on boxing.
“I consider ONE Championship as the caretaker of every form of martial arts in the world, including boxing,” Sityodtong stated. “We will make sure that the new generation of boxers in Asia will be fully nurtured. The legacy that Manny Pacquiao and other boxing greats have created must continue. We are reaching out. We shall grow together.”
Here is Sityodtong calling out Pacquiao: