By Joyce Lim
SINGAPORE aims to be Asia's first premier motor sports hub.
Now, how about making the Lion City the Mecca of Asian boxing?
In the past two years, we have seen the opening of more gyms which offer different forms of martial arts.
These gyms are like mini clubs, organising mini fighting tournaments for their members once a month.
Then last year, Mark Burnett, the creator of the hit American boxing reality TV show, decided to film part of its series in Singapore despite the higher production cost here, as compared to Los Angeles.
It was the first time that the reality TV show was filmed outside of the United States.
Burnett had said that Singapore is an efficient place to work in and he has plans to invest here both financially and emotionally.
Come next year, Top Rated Boxing, a Bangkok and Singapore-based Asian sports management and promotions company, plans to hold five boxing tournaments in Singapore.
Said Scott Mallon, vice-president of Top Rated Boxing: "This is a new beginning for professional boxing in Singapore and is the first step to achieving Top Rated Boxing's primary goal of making Singapore the Mecca of Asian boxing.
"We will play leading role in making Singapore a sports and entertainment hub by bringing the world's best boxers to Singapore and have them fight in spectacular venues in front of record sell-out audiences."
Mallon added that he hopes to hold one show a month by 2011.
Mallon has been involved in boxing for close to three decades and has been living in Thailand for 15 years with his wife and two children.
He said: "Singapore is an untapped market. Many foreigners are hesitant to fight in Thailand because of some of the bad experiences that they had in the past. "We feel that Singapore is top-notch for any sports event. You have got Formula One now and boxing is totally different.
"Not only do these fighters have the skills, they also come to entertain."
The first of Top Rated Boxing series of events, titled the Professional Championship Boxing - A New Beginning, will take place on 16 Jan at a 2,400 capacity auditorium at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
With six fight cards, boxers from eight countries will compete. The main event will see currently ranked WBC world No. 6, Leon Moore, of Guyana, battling Marangin Marbun from Indonesia, for the WBA (PABA) Super Bantamweight title over 12 rounds Singapore's top boxer Mohamad Rizan, will also be back to action, with the aim of reigniting his boxing career in this championship.
It will be Rizan's first since 2007.
Ringside seats are the most expensive and are priced at $188 each. The cheapest ticket costs $78.
Said Mallon: "People in Singapore have the spending power and they are willing to spend.
"A show like this will cost us close to $400,000. We are looking just to break even at this stage.
"People who come will be surprised. I guarantee it will be a good show."
Singaporean aims for the top
Singapore's top Boxer Mohamad Rizan will return to action on the undercard at the Professional Championship Boxing - A New Beginning.
The 29-year-old boxer will be taking on Mao Yi Jun of China.
A crowd pleaser, Rizan has had three knock-out victories in his last four fights.
Said Rizan who started boxing 10 years ago: "I've not fought much in the past three years. But I still have got the same ability and now with my new promoter, Top Rated Boxing, I want to get as many fights under my belt as possible.
"Sooner or later, I want to be headlining the card and challenging for titles. I want to be Singapore's first international champion.
"We have seen how Singapore is hosting more sports events now. There is a lot of entertainment value in boxing. Very soon, we will be like Las Vegas where there will be a lot of fighting matches."