Everything is signed, sealed and delivered. The fight will be contested at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, the gloves will be eight ounces, the money will be split 50-50 and I’m sure Michael Buffer will be there to get us started. The one thing that we don’t yet know is where this fight of fights will go down.
Not long ago, there were several places being mentioned: New Orleans Superdome, Cowboys Stadium, MGM Grand, Yankee Stadium, Staples Center … heck, I even volunteered my living room, and my dad said he’d be more than happy to build seating in his backyard.
The field was quickly narrowed. The Brennan households didn’t have enough room, while New York and California’s taxes were too high. Associated Press clippings have made it seem as if Jerry Jones would really like to host this megaevent, and Bob Arum is open to the idea. Golden Boy, however, seems to have a nice cozy relationship with MGM, and I’m sure Mayweather would love a little home-field advantage (he lives in Vegas).
So the fight before the fight is going to be Dallas vs. Vegas. Sure, Vegas has been known as a fight town lately, but the MGM Grand’s capacity is barely above 17,000. I’m sure the buzz in Vegas for a big fight is something special, but being a blue-collar schmuck, I kind of enjoy the idea of people like me having a chance at getting a ticket to the fight.
For the good of boxing, this fight needs to be in Dallas. I completely understand that Texas has been known to have some bad decisions in the sport, but Vegas has had bad decisions, too. What state hasn’t? Honestly, this is boxing. If we are going to stop putting on fights in states that have had bad decisions, boxing will cease to exist.
Think about it: A packed MGM Grand will have fewer than 20,000 fans, and you know that most of those tickets will go to big spenders and “mucho important” people. How does that help the sport of boxing?
A fight of this caliber is going to pique the interest of the general sports fan, which means this is a huge opportunity to not just make money, but to also garner new interest in the sport. The pay-per-view numbers are going to be what they are no matter where this fight ends up, but in Dallas, the promoters could get up to 100,000 fans to attend. Why would all those involved not want to try and sell an extra 80,000 tickets? Heaven forbid an actual fan attends one of these fights. (I’m not sure what the actual estimates are for how many people will attend the fight, but I guarantee it’s much closer to 100,000 than it is 20,000).
As much as I loved watching the Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao fight, it wasn’t as electric as a Ricky Hatton fight when he fought at the Manchester Evening News Arena or Lucian Bute when he fights in Montreal. That’s because they have a decent following and have their fights in venues where actual fight fans can get tickets. If you are putting on the biggest fight in the sport, why wouldn’t you want the biggest venue, in the state that likes everything big?
At some point, someone in the sport of boxing needs to start thinking about the big picture and stop shooting the sport in the foot. 2009 was a great year for the sport of boxing, with fewer PPVs and more quality fights. It’s one of the first years in quite some time that fans haven’t felt shorted. Putting Pacquiao-Mayweather together was a step in the right direction — now having it in a place that is big enough to accommodate some true fans would be a leap in that same direction.
I have stated in past articles that a big fight like Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is like the Super Bowl to boxing fans. Imagine if Roger Goodell decided that he wanted to host the Super Bowl at Nickerson Field (capacity: 21,000). The rest of the NFL and the football-viewing public would be in an uproar. Yet somehow, it’s OK for boxing to shortchange everyone?
As boxing fans, we put up with quite a bit more aggravation than other sports fans. It’s time to give us a break. What’s the worst that could happen? MGM decides to no longer host smaller Golden Boy fights like Andre Berto–Shane Mosley?
Like I said, my dad has no problem building stands in the backyard.