Las Vegas is home for most of the biggest matches in boxing, but Macau, China has emerged as a desired location for one of the sport’s biggest stars. Even though HBO Pay-Per-View had never even broadcast a fight outside of the United States until a year ago, Manny Pacquiao is set to fight in Macau for the second time in 12 months.
Pacquiao will put his WBO Welterweight Championship on the line against Chris Algieri this weekend. In Nov. 2013, he fought outside of Las Vegas for the first time in over six years, defeating Brandon Rios at the Venetian Macao.
Fighting in Macao instead of Las Vegas has become a smart financial decision for Pacquiao, who along with Floyd Mayweather Jr., is the sport’s most popular athlete. Because he is fighting outside of the country, Pacquiao doesn’t have to worry about being taxed by the U.S. government on the at-least $20 million that he’s guaranteed to earn.
"By fighting in Macau, Manny is not subject to United States income tax," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told USA Today. "Most of that would be at 39.6 per cent. We are talking millions of dollars he can save."
Few athletes have ever equaled Pacquiao’s more than $300 million in career earnings, but the boxer has found himself in financial trouble. He’s currently battling the Philippine government, who’s looking for $75 million for unpaid taxes, stemming from fights in the U.S.
The fight won’t draw massive PPV numbers in Macau. Pacquiao vs. Rios did around 475,000 buys, much less than the 750,000-800,000 buys that Pacquiao’s Las Vegas Fight with Timothy Bradley drew in April. However, moving the fight to Macau is more than worth it for Pacquiao and his promoter.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Pacquiao’s purse is nearly three times what he would be guaranteed in Las Vegas, because of the fee paid by the Venetian. Holding the fight in Macau will also increase the number of viewers, since it will be broadcast live on free Chinese TV. Arum and Ed Tracy, CEO of Sands China and operator of the Venetian Macao, have estimated that between 200 million and 300 million Chinese people could tune into the fight.
While Pacquiao will benefit from fighting in Macau, the bout couldn’t come at a better time for the city. Approximately 80 percent of Macau’s income derives from casino revenue, and business has been on the decline. The city’s revenue had been seven times that of Las Vegas at the start of 2014, but October was the worst month for casino revenue, since the city began keeping records. The 23 percent decrease marked the fifth straight month of declining income.
With the fight being held in another continent, the start time will still accommodate viewers in the United States. HBO PPV begins its live broadcast at 9 pm. ET on Saturday night, but the undercard won’t allow Pacquiao and Algieri to enter the ring until approximately two hours later.
The 13-hour time difference means the match will take place on Sunday in the early afternoon in Macau. Even before Pacquiao and Rios fought in China, starting a boxing match early in the day in another country was nothing new. The “Thrilla in Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was fought in the morning so it could be broadcast in primetime in the United States.
"We needed to make sure our technical and production items would be addressed and we quickly concluded that fans would be able to see the same television pay-per-view experience they were accustomed to seeing," HBO’s Senior vice president of sports operations and PPV Mark Taffet told ESPN, before the company first broadcast a fight in Macau.
Algieri has never fought outside of the United States. In the biggest fight of his career, the 30-year-old is guaranteed to make approximately $1.5 million.