MANILA – Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum believes pressure for a second "Thrilla in Manila," headlined by Manny Pacquiao, is building up with the construction of 4 big casinos in the Manila Bay waterfront.
“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.”
Arum said that to boost the casinos’ opening, they will need an event of grand proportions similar to the historic Thrilla in Manila between Muhammad Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier in the 1970s.
“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.”
SM Mall of Asia Arena, now the Philippines's largest indoor stadium, opened in the Manila Bay waterfront last year.
Arum has been branching out his operations to Asia, which has a population of 4.2 billion, citing a gold mine of a market waiting to be tapped.
However, his strategy will require a partnership with casinos to generate a sure profit.
Pacquiao is set to make his ring return on November 24 against Mexico’s Brandon Rios.
The fight will take place at The Venetian in Macau, which has a liberalized gaming industry similar to Las Vegas in the United States.
Arum sees Pacquiao fighting in Thrilla in Manila II before the Filipino retires from boxing.
Thrilla in Manila I was the third and final boxing match between Ali and Frazier for the WBC and WBA heavyweight titles.
It was fought at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City in 1975.
The bout, won by Ali, is ranked as one of the greatest fights of 20th century boxing, and is the climax to the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier.