According to a report on Sportsnavi, the venue for the May 26th bout between WBC Flyweight Champion Daisuke Naito and Chinese challenger Xiong Zhao Zhong has been moved from Shanghai to Tokyo on less than one week's notice. Promoter Hiroshi Miyata cited vague "problems which cannot be cleared" as the reason for the last-minute switch.
Naito-Zhong is set to air live as part of a special twin-bill "Martial Arts Festival" with DREAM.9 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System next Tuesday. TBS and DREAM parent company Fighting and Entertainment Group had hoped that the title fight would serve as a strong lead-in for the ratings-challenged MMA promotion, as Naito's past bouts have all pulled excellent numbers.
However, the venue swap has certainly taken some of the shine off the fight.
Zhong will be the first Chinese boxer to challenge for a world title, and it would have been apropos for him to fight in front of his countrymen. Now, he's just an outmatched challenger trying to take the belt on the champ's home turf. It's a far less compelling match on Japanese soil, and Japanese fans may feel the same. Furthermore, the boxing card will now take place just miles away from the Yokohama Arena and could potentially draw attendance away from DREAM's event.