For promoter Bob Arum, who is staging “The Event” at Dallas Cowboys Stadium this weekend between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey, there has to be a sense of déjà vu. Back on November 14th, 1966, he promoted the heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Cleveland Williams at the Houston Astrodome, which had just opened its doors in April of 1965.
"I sure did; I sure did," said Arum, on Monday afternoon, "and I thought when I did that fight in the Astrodome, it was the most magnificent building I had ever seen and it was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable place and here we are, almost 45 years later, and this Cowboy Stadium, of course, makes the Astrodome pale by comparison. But of course, all those intervening years have that effect."
Arum is correct; the Astrodome, which played host to a series of notable fights and was best known for being the home of the Astros and Oilers, was, for that time, the most modern facility in the country. It featured a dome and a new-fangled invention called “Astroturf” (because of the inability to grow real grass indoors) that was cursed for years by those who played on that artificial surface.
It was dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” So what would that make Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion palace?
"I don’t know what you would call it, except it has to be the greatest stadium in all of the world. There is nothing like it. I mean, it is just thrilling to be in there to watch everything on that screen, all the amenities they have," said Arum, who knows that this building- and the novelty of bringing a prizefight inside of it- is every bit the attraction as the “Pac-Man” himself. "It’s just unbelievable," he continued. "The people who go to Cowboy Stadium for a game or for a fight, it’s an entertainment experience from the food, the drinks; everything is so accessible; it’s really state-of-the-art."
The build-up to “The Event” seemed to be overshadowed by the press tour that took place for the May 1st showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley. Now, Top Rank has a full week to recapture that buzz for their pay-per-view event on Saturday evening. Arum, who arrived in Texas over the weekend, said the momentum for this fight is building quickly around the local area. "The sports editor of the Fort Worth paper told me that they wrote a big article on Sunday, as did the Dallas paper, and they said that their phones have been off the hook, people calling up, ’Can we still get tickets?,’ etc, etc." said Arum, who presided over the media day for Clottey, alongside Jones on Monday. "So the town is really getting excited. Last night, they had me on for seven minutes on a sports show on one of the television channels."
Pacquiao arrived on Monday night on what Arum has dubbed the “Manny Pacquiao Express.” "It’s the Manny Pacquiao plane with his picture on it and so forth, which he chartered for the occasion and then the Manny Pacquiao bus meets them as they land; it’s hilarious. We’ll have all the television crews out there capturing it."
The house will be configured for a capacity of 45,000 patrons. Arum believes every seat will be sold by fight time. "Yeah, sure. We’re getting close, now. I think we’re about 5-to-6,000 away from a complete sell-out," he claimed. And with Arum, a lifelong New York Giants football fan, getting along so famously with the head Cowboy, expect more fight cards at “Jerry’s World.” "The opportunities to do shows here is enormous because of the number of open dates because the football team only takes certain dates and I’d like to bring Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. here instead of having him fight in Mexico. I think that would be a great idea," said the promoter, who mentioned that he could be coming back to Cowboys Stadium later in 2010.
As for the all-important pay-per-view projections, Arum admitted, "I have no idea. I know that the reports are tremendous, the cable systems, the dish people are advertising like mad and we expect do to very good numbers. Whether it’s going to be higher or lower than the Cotto fight (which did approximately 1.25 million buys), remains to be seen."
I read, with great interest, the controversy surrounding whether Filipino journalists were barred from talking to Mayweather during the Los Angeles portion of the press tour that took place last week at L.A. Live. All I can say is, I would hope that it’s not true and just a misunderstanding or just something that was blown way out of proportion. I’m not taking any sides here; I wasn’t there, so I can’t say either way.
For all that can be said about “Money,” even his staunchest detractors have never accused him of prejudice or racism. But I can speak from experience, if Mayweather views you as someone who projects, what they call “negativity” his way, he will not speak to you. I vividly recall being in a very short line to interview him during the press conference to announce his bout with Zab Judah at a Mexican restaurant at Universal Studios, when Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels whispered to me that I wouldn’t be allowed to interview him. I wasn’t upset at Samuels. He was just doing his job; I figured that he was given those orders by his advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, who plays the role of “Smithers” to Floyd’s “Mr. Burns.”
So I just stepped out of the line. Hey, no need to cause a scene. There was nothing I was going to be able to do to change this outcome, regardless. But I did ask a series of questions that he couldn’t avoid during the roundtable portion of the proceedings that you could tell just really irritated the hell out of him and “Smithers-be.” Mayweather can be as gracious as anyone- as long as you play by his set of rules and kiss his ring. If you don’t, things can get very prickly.
Perhaps- and again, I’m not excusing what is being alleged- Mayweather just didn’t want to deal with what he felt was going to be a segment of reporters who he believed were going to deal in “negativity” toward him. Maybe this was more about the expected line of questioning than culture and ethnicity. Then again, it can be argued that part of dealing with the media and promoting an event is handling the tough questions in a professional manner. This type of behavior, if allowed to continue unfettered, sets a dangerous precedent.
Throughout the lead-up to his fight with Clottey, Pacquiao has had to deal with questions regarding allegations thrown his way about the usage of illegal performance-enhancing substances. And how it would be received if reporters of African-American descent were accusing Pacquiao and his publicists of denying them access?
Just my guess, but I get the sense that “The Event” will do around 750,000 pay-per-view buys, while Mayweather-Mosley will threaten the two million mark. The bottom line is very simple; Mayweather has a much better-known dance partner. Pacquiao-Clottey is exactly what they have dubbed it: an event, held in a new billion-dollar palace in the heart of Texas that harkens back to a day when boxing regularly played to big crowds across the country in major metropolitan cities. But Mayweather-Mosley is the best pure match-up (on paper, at least) of 2010 and reminiscent of a period of time when two black fighters below the heavyweight level could do major pay-per-view numbers, like Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns did on a regular basis.
Mayweather proved with Juan Manuel Marquez that he can carry the load as an A-side of a promotion. Mosley, while never a true attraction by himself, has a track record of being a great supporting actor on the marquee.
We will see just how well Pacquiao dances by himself.
Our very own Brian Harty has posted some great footage of a Pacquiao workout, where he went 16 hard rounds with his trainer, Freddie Roach, on the mitts at the Wild Card Boxing Club.
LONE STAR FLURRIES
Was told by Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions that fights between Sergio Mora and Daniel Edouard and Rocky Juarez against Jason Litzau have been finalized for the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II undercard on April 3rd...As of now, the bout between Hozumi Hasagawa and Fernando Montiel is not a done deal, and if Montiel isn’t offered more yen, he ain’t going over to Japan...Abner Mares will be tuning up for his bout against Yonnhy Perez on March 25th at the Club Nokia against Colombian Felipe Almanza...Did Murad Muhammad really say that he kept Pacquiao away from black fighters? I thought the only thing he really kept him away from was his money...Did ya’ know that the Astrodome was originally called the Harris County Domed Stadium? Yeah, that really wasn’t catchy, at all...Willie Mays hit his 500th career big fly at the ’Dome...Has anyone had a tougher stretch recently than Allen Iverson?...”The Real Housewives of the O.C.” had a great season. You just knew Tamra and Simon were headed for Splitsville...Any questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow me at Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing