The Texas Three-Step
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Feb 2, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
This weekend at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, HBO televises a doubleheader featuring WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (against Marco Antonio Rubio) and Nonito Donaire (versus Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title). It's the first of three shows broadcast from the “Lone Star State” by the major premium cable network in the upcoming weeks.
In addition to this weekend’s card, on February 18th at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Showtime has a telecast featuring IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud facing Gabriel Campillo and Paul Williams returning against Nobu Ishida. On March 24th, Erik Morales defends his WBC junior welterweight strap against Danny Garcia and James Kirkland steps in with Carlos Molina at the Reliant Arena in Houston on HBO.
There's a saying that in Texas, there are five seasons that really matter: high school football, college football, the NFL season, recruiting and spring football. But if you go back through the years, boxing has a rich history in this state. Muhammad Ali fought the likes of Ernie Terrell and Cleveland Williams in the Astrodome back in the '60's when it was considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” In more recent times, Oscar De La Hoya drew over 48,000 patrons to the Sun Bowl in El Paso back in 1998 when he faced Patrick Charpentier. Five years earlier, when Pernell Whitaker took on Julio Cesar Chavez (in the same building in which the latter’s son performs this Saturday night), 63,500 patrons packed the building.
Recent fights involving Manny Pacquiao, Juan Diaz and Chavez Jr. have all done well at the gate. In a marketplace where promotions in Las Vegas are struggling sans the “Pac-Man” and Floyd Mayweather, boxing should mess with Texas- a lot more than it does.
“Absolutely," agreed Bob Arum, who's promoting Chavez Jr.-Rubio, “and the reason is very plain because one of the elements of the population that is most into boxing in this country are the Hispanics and there are great, great, vast numbers of Hispanics throughout Texas.” Richard Schaefer, whose company, Golden Boy, is running things on March 24th, doesn't see eye-to-eye on many things with Arum but he agrees with his rival, telling Maxboxing, “You look at the demographics of Texas and their love and passion for the sport of boxing and you put that in perspective of the number of big boxing events taking place in Texas, I think there is a disconnect, so I definitely think that Texas is a great market and it definitely deserves to have more big events.”
According to the U.S. Census (, Texas has a population of over 25 million, over a third of which are Hispanic/Latino, supporting the theses of both Arum and Schaefer.
Arum believes that this jurisdiction is conducive to having successful events. “For example, in San Antonio, it's much more cost effective to advertise here with radio, television, newspaper, because it's a relatively smaller market than it is in Los Angeles, whose prices are prohibitive because you're reaching a much bigger audience in L.A. but so much of that audience, you can reach them from today to tomorrow and you ain't going to sell a ticket. But in San Antonio, which is a small market, the rates and everything are very reasonable and a big percentage of the people that you're reaching are really interested in attending your fight.”
If you look at the 2012’s boxing calendar, more fights seem to be heading away from the desert of Vegas and into major metropolitan cities. More and more promoters are being offered “four-wall” deals from the casinos and the site fees have dried up in recent years.
“It's like fishing,” explained Arum, whose company is based in Las Vegas, “You have to fish where the fish are. So in these areas in Texas, it's loaded with your fans, people who are into boxing, etc. Now you come to Las Vegas and not so much and the locals are really hurting because of the economy. So they can't really afford to buy tickets particularly. So you're really relying on the attractions to be big enough so the out-of-town visitors are attracted to Las Vegas because of the fight. And very frankly, there are very few fights that fall in that category. Now that is nothing new.”
The veteran promoter points out that in the past, during the supposed heyday of the sport, bouts such as Larry Holmes-Ken Norton and Ray Leonard-Wilfredo Benitez (with Marvin Hagler getting his first title shot against Vito Antofermo on the undercard) were held at the old Caesars Palace Pavilion that had a capacity of around 4,000. Leon Spinks upset of Muhammad Ali was at a ballroom at the Hilton Hotel that fit around 4,200. And with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather really the only ones able to draw audiences of over 10,000 to “Sin City,” many of these fights probably fit better in different locales.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center holds around 12,000 and the MGM Grand Garden Arena seats 16,500. “And that's way too big for most of these fights. Now for a Pacquiao fight, that's not too big,” Arum points out.
Like real estate, it's all about location, location, location. You still need to bring the right fighter and fights to Texas.
“There's always been interest to at this level- if you have the right guy,” said Arum. “Now, if I went in with Andre Ward- who's a very good fighter, great kid- and put it at the Alamodome, I don't know if I'd sell a thousand tickets. But if I go in with Chavez Jr., I'll sell between 10-to-12,000.”
Lester Bedford, who runs the Bedford Agency, a sports marketing company in this state, has been involved in some manner in nearly every major card staged here the past 30 years. “There's so many good fight towns in Texas. It isn't just San Antonio or Houston, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, many, many terrific fight towns. Any HBO show or that type of event, I don't care who it is; you got a home for it in Texas if you're looking for a place to put a fight.”
Bedford believes, “The population is a perfect mix. Every one of these cities [has] a lot of football fans and there's a crossover between football and boxing and so if a guy’s a football fan, there's a chance he'll be a boxing fan. So it being such a big football state, I think that helps a lot. Some research with the Houston Chronicle has shown that people who checked off NFL football as their favorite sport, 50 percent of those were avid boxing fans. That's a pretty big number. So there's a big crossover between football and boxing and I just think there's more boxing fans. I think people are just more interested in it here than most places.”
On the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website (, these future boxing events are listed:
02/04/12- Top Rank Boxing, San Antonio
02/11/12- Savarese Promotions, Houston
02/17/12- Sosa Promotions, the Woodlands
02/17/12- Goossen Tutor and Showcase Boxing, Arlington
02/18/12- Goossen Tutor, Corpus Christi
02/24/12- South Coast Promotions, Houston
03/01/12- United Renovations, Dallas
03/09/12- Triple A Promotions, Laredo
03/16/12- Boogie Promotions, Wichita Falls
03/17/12- Triple A Promotions, Robstown
03/17/12- Ultimate Warrior Fighting, Pharr
03/24/12- Golden Boy Promotions, Houston
03/24/12- Zeferino Promotions, San Antonio
03/31/12- Valley Promotions, McAllen
04/27/12- Triple A Promotions, Victoria
05/04/12- Zeferino Promotions, El Paso
Every year, this state is among the leaders in the amount of boxing shows put on. Bedford, who is working alongside Top Rank for this upcoming promotion, projects 12-to-15,000 in ticket sales. “It’s going to be a multimillion-dollar gate possibly or something close,” he said. He adds that Texas regularly, “cranks out $100,000 gates. We got different cities that do that.”
"It's been a good market for 30 years. Ever since I've been in boxing, it's been a terrific market and you give them a good fight card and they're going to show up,” added Bedford, who believes the presence of HBO and Showtime actually helps drive the events, locally. He expects robust numbers for all three of the aforementioned upcoming cards. “You give them some trash, they know it. It's like a concert; you know when you get a hot group or somebody who's doing well on the charts- they're going to do well in Texas or any other city. And in boxing, the same thing. If you get a good event, it's going to do well.”
According to Bedford, for real promoters- who aren't just content to place their events in casino for a batch of rooms and meal vouchers- Texas can be very affordable. “There's a lot of arena operators here that are willing to put up the arena for almost nothing. I mean, the Alamodome cost us $25,000. To go to the Madison Square Garden, it costs almost $400,000.”
Some others have their own buildings they are willing to utilize.
“Actually, Golden Boy, together with AEG and the Brener family, runs the brand-new soccer stadium which is being completed as we speak in downtown Houston,” said Schaefer. “It's going to be like a 24,000 seat venue- similar to like the Home Depot Center soccer stadium in Carson [California]. It's going to open up in May, so we are currently talking to the general manager there about getting a date to do a boxing event even from downtown Houston at the soccer stadium. So we are planning on doing that, potentially in the summer with [WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul] “Canelo” [Alvarez].
Golden Boy’s Morales-Garcia card was postponed from its original January 28th date. They were in the process of rescheduling this show based on the early returns and Schaefer says there was no thought of going anywhere else on the new date. “No question about it; it was very warmly welcomed. We had very good ticket sales and it was very clear that it would not be right to take this event away from Houston and we were fortunate we were able to work out the dates in a way that we were able to keep it there.”
Arum has talked about bringing a summer bout between Lamont Peterson and Juan Manuel Marquez back to Arlington and Cowboys Stadium. Top Rank is of the belief that with the right match-up and affordable pricing, events in Texas do invariably well. It's hard to argue with the track record. Helping matters is that Texas is a big event/boxing-friendly commission, as indicated by Antonio Margarito getting the licensing to face Pacquiao after being rejected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Against the wishes of many others in the boxing community, Texas welcomed the “Tijuana Tornado” with no compunction. Hey, nobody tells Texas what to do.
“Big” Greg Alvarez, Assistant Boxing Administrator for the Texas Combative Sports Program, says, “I think all the fights would have a home here in Texas,” adding, “It puts us in the national spotlight and ask the promoters if they like coming to Texas and look at what they tell you. They love coming to Texas.”
So how have the recent big cards done in Texas? Here are the official numbers from the TDLR:
Sept. 6th, 2008- Juan Diaz vs. Michael Katsidis, Toyota Center, Houston: 9,758 tickets sold, 3,221 complimentary tickets, $900,190 total gate
Feb. 28th, 2009- Diaz vs. Juan Manuel Marquez, Toyota Center, Houston: 13,505 tickets sold, complimentary tickets (not available), $1,267,770 total gate
June 26th, 2010- Chavez Jr. vs. John Duddy, Alamodome, San Antonio: 6,686 tickets sold, 745 complimentary tickets, $591,215 total gate
March 13th, 2010- Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington: 36,371 tickets sold, 5,472 complimentary tickets, $6,359,985 total gate
Nov. 13th, 2010- Pacquiao vs. Margarito, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington: 27,874 tickets sold, 9,717 complimentary tickets, $5,404,760 total gate
Nov. 19th, 2011- Chavez Jr. vs. Peter Manfredo, Reliant Arena, Houston: 3,828 tickets sold, 364 complimentary tickets, $442,160 total gate
(The state gets three percent of the total gate revenue.)

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More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at
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