Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cowboys Stadium is perfect place to launch Pacquiao-Clottey prefight hype

ARLINGTON — For the fighters’ introductions, the dial on the fog machine was cranked up to "11."
There were shooting flames and guys running with flags that shot sparklers.
There were the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, presumably having all called in sick from their not-quite-so-famous day jobs.
And to introduce them all was Michael Buffer, the man with the eternal tan who trademarked the phrase, "Let’s get ready to rummmmmmm-ble!!!!" That guy.
The new Cowboys Stadium was made for events like this, events where the adjectives were 72 feet high and all in high-definition, events where the sizzle just totally inundated the steak.
No less than Bob Arum, the legendary boxing promoter who’s worked with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, was moved to say, "Let me tell you. Nobody does it like this organization. This place is really spectacular. The big screen is awesome. This was an event."
And as Arum himself said, appropriately framing the occasion, "And this was just a press conference. People are going to kick themselves for not being here."
No, it isn’t the hoped-for mega-showdown of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. But Pacquaio and Ghana-born Joshua Clottey are a good, big-time boxing start for the house that Jerry Jones built.
"I feel like a football player," Pacquiao said, standing on a stage at the 50-yard line.
Arum, who just turned 78, likened the upcoming (March 13) bout to the 1966 fight between Ali and Cleveland Williams in the Houston Astrodome. The hype for that fight centered more around the then-new Astrodome than the ring matchup, Arum recalled.
"This is not Mayweather," Arum said, "but it’s a better fight. If this kid comes to fight, it’s going to be a real test for Manny. He’s so much bigger."
Ticket prices for the March 13 fight will range from $700 down to $50. Arum is excited about being able to offer what he called "reasonable prices"’ for a world-class boxing show.
The stadium will use its basketball configuration for the bout. The uppermost deck will not be opened, and the video board, as it was Tuesday, will be lowered to 30 feet over the ring.
"Everyone gets a ringside seat," as Arum put it.
The idea of putting big-time boxing inside of his new stadium was hatched a long time ago, Jones said. Before he bought the Cowboys, Jones once put on boxing matches in his native Arkansas.
Longtime Texas boxing promoter Lester Bedford began working with the Jones family to help make it happen. Their first idea was to have the stadium host Oscar De La Hoya’s final fight.
They thought they had the big one — the undefeated Mayweather against Pacquiao, the man considered to be "pound-for-pound, the world’s best fighter." But even after the bidding escalated to $25 million, Mayweather wouldn’t agree to the fight.
"This is a very good consolation prize," Bedford said. "This is what’s good for boxing — a stadium fight. This is what’s going to keep boxing going."
With the gate reasonably priced, more people — with a younger demographic — will be exposed to big-time boxing. Cowboys Stadium could be the venue that hatches the next generation of boxing fans.
"This will be something special," Arum told the crowd of around 1,500 who attended Tuesday’s event. "Just like Madison Square Garden was the mecca of boxing in the 1950s and ’60s, just like Caesars Palace was the mecca of boxing in the ’70s, ’80s and on into the ’90s, believe you me, with your help, Cowboys Stadium will become in this century the mecca of boxing."
While the cheerleaders high-kicked and Buffer gave them his signature rollllllll-ing introductions, Pacquiao and Clottey emerged from the man-made fog and joined the group onstage.
"To think," Jones said, "they’re going to see them 72 feet high."
Deviating from the script, Buffer noted, "Ladies and gentlemen, in my 28 years of doing this, there’s never been a press conference like this."
I’ll second that. But when boxing meets Jerry Jones, we should have expected a sizzle-fest like this.
"I’ve known Bob Arum for a long time," Bedford said, "and I’ve known Oscar De La Hoya, Don King and have worked for all of them. But none can match Jerry Jones."
Floyd Mayweather doesn’t know what he missed.


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