“Return of the King,” which featured the return of two-time Olympic gold medalist and Chinese icon Zou Shiming in the main event, attracted an enormous audience of 36.5 million viewers. The January 30 live telecast, which emanated from the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China, boasted 6.5 million viewers who watched on television on CCTV 5 and 30 million viewers who saw the fights via live stream. Over 12,000 fans were on hand to see it live.
Earlier that day, in the same venue, the 2016 debut of China’s popular live boxing series, “League of Fists,” presented its own card. All told, 28 bouts were fought between the two shows. “League of Fists” ran from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and “Return of the King” ran from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
“These events are growing the sport of boxing in China at a tremendous rate,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “The voracious appetite of the fans and the sponsors proves that mainland China is very fertile territory for our sport. The potential is unlimited and should pay off big benefits in terms of exposure.”
Zou (7-1, 2 KOs), in his debut fighting as a professional on the mainland and his first fight since unsuccessfully challenging for a world title last year, regained the WBO International flyweight title by knocking out the previously undefeated Natan Santana in the seventh round. The card also featured 2012 Olympic gold medalist and undefeated Top-Five middleweight contender RYOTA MURATA (9-0, 6 KOs), of Tokyo, Japan, who stopped Gaston Vega in the second round.
“League of Fists,” which launched last fall, and “Return of the King” are joint ventures of Top Rank and SECA, a Chinese sports marketing/management company.