The history of sports between the Philippines and China is a long and somewhat complicated one. In a way there is some simplicity in that both Chinese athletes and teams are stupendously good and can be counted on ruling the roost on Asian competitions. Even outside the playing field things do not change. Basketball aficionados might recall China beating out the Philippine bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The general picture is that China does not seem to need much from the country in terms of sports. But that may change with this quite recent boxing-related development.
ABS-CBN reports that, close to the big fight night this coming Sunday, between Pinoy Pride boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and his latest opponent Lucas Matthysse of Argentina, China from out of the blue has sent a number of its boxers to his training camp under MP Promotions. Manny himself personally welcomed these Chinese sluggers who will join him in the tail end of his final training and conditioning for the Matthysse fight the following Sunday. In fact, two of them have the singular honor of being part of the several undercard bouts before the main event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With regards to the two China boxers part of the Pacquiao-Matthysse undercard matches, one is Lu Bin, once part of the country’s Olympic boxing team who recently turned pro. He is fighting the second professional bout of his career against Carlos Canizales of Venezuela. Lu’s objective: his first world title in the WBA light flyweight championship at stake in his match. Should he prevail, he could make the Guinness Book of World Records by being the first boxer to win a belt after only two pro bouts in his career.
The other undercard competitor of note is a matter of concern for local boxing supporters as he, Yongqiang Yang, will be matched against Filipino Harmonito dela Torre. There is no title to be fought over but that does make Yongqiang the “enemy” in this encounter.
This remarkable moment of inter-country cooperation for development of athletes was rooted in a 2017 agreement between Manny and a sports development company in Beijing, where Chinese boxers could be sponsored to train with the sluggers and under the coaches of MP Promotions. The Chinese delegation’s boxing coach Tian Ye is candid in the lack of a solid pro boxing history for China, and hopes that working together with Team Pacquiao will significantly up chances for his boys to contend for major world championship titles.
Part of the deal worked out between Manny and the Chinese delegation in 2017 is the future establishment of an international boxing academy in Beijing.
The fight between Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse is for the WBA (Regular) Welterweight title, and will happen at the Axiata Arena at Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, July 15 (July 14 evening in the US).
Image courtesy of INQUIRER.net