Chris John’s 48-0-3 (22KO) team says simple economics are the reason the star boxer is punching in Perth and not Las Vegas.
“The Dragon” has his 19th world title fight when he defends his World Boxing Association featherweight belt against Simpiwe Vetyeka 25-2 (15KO) at Metro City tonight.
The bout will be watched by millions of devotees on television in Indonesia, where John’s standing is often compared to that of Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines.
Both The Ring and Boxing News magazines rank John as the No.1 in the featherweight division and he boasts a win over Juan Manuel Marquez, who knocked Pacquiao out cold last year. Unlike Pacquiao, however, John has fought only twice in America and the names on his CV fall short of those on the Filipino’s.
So why is an unbeaten world champion of 10 years, who has 48 wins and just three draws, still fighting in Jakarta or, indeed, Northbridge?
“Chris is getting paid a certain amount in Indonesia and for him to travel to America, they’ve got to match the money he’s going to get. It’s a business,” said Craig Christian, John’s Balcatta-based trainer and manager.
“If they offer him 200,000 when he’s getting 300,000 in Indonesia, it doesn’t make any business sense.
"He’ll fight anyone, but as his management we look after him financially.
“We went to America when they offered us more money, and they gave him a draw (against Rocky Juarez in 2009). They robbed him. Then we went back and beat the guy fair and square.
“They won’t come to Indonesia. We offer them big money but they won’t come. But they don’t offer us the same money to go over there.
“He’ll fight anyone, but as his management we look after him financially.”
John hit a financial hurdle this week with one of his sponsors reportedly pulling out of a $250,000 deal for his fight in Perth because of Australia’s spy row with Indonesia.
Not that it disturbed the 34-year-old, who is backed by WA-based Dragon Fire Promotions.
“It’s not really a problem, I just focus on my fight,” he said. “My management look after my business.
“There’s no real pressure for me, I have the whole country behind me. I try my best, they know that whether I win or lose.”
“He doesn’t lose,” said Christian, who expects his man to take a points decision over the dangerous Vetyeka, who holds the less-prestigious International Boxing Organisation crown.
Also on tonight’s card are Northam’s WBC International title-holder Matty Garlett, IBO lightweight champion Daud Yordan and unbeaten 2012 Olympian Jeff Horn in a winner-takes-all bout with two-time world title challenger Naoufel Ben Rabeh.