Commentary

Manny Pacquiao fight has strong lure

Even in an ultra-competitive market, promoters confident fight vs. Margarito will be big

Updated: November 11, 2010, 11:28 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Bob Arum is confident.

The long-time promoter and founder of Top Rank, one of the more successful promotional companies in the sport of boxing, believes Saturday night's Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito super welterweight title fight at Cowboys Stadium will reach record numbers.

Arum thinks the $1.2 billion venue located between Dallas and Fort Worth will draw 60,000 fans.

The first boxing match in this venue, March 13 between Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey, drew 50,994, the third-largest indoor crowd in boxing history.

"It's on a very good time of year," Arum said this week. "It's well before Thanksgiving, way before Christmas and it's the first big fight in about four months. All the stars are aligned."

[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao
AP Photo/David J. PhillipManny Pacquiao drew more than 50,000 fans to Cowboys Stadium the last time he fought there.

It will be interesting to see just what the North Texas sports fan has left for a boxing match.

In the past two months there have been an additional eight Texas Rangers home games, thanks to a three-round playoff run that ended with the franchise's first World Series trip.

The Dallas Cowboys, including preseason, have had five home games since September. Add six college football games between the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and Cowboys Stadium, and the sports fans around here might be tapped out.

"I don't think so," said Scott Buss, a fan from North Richland Hills who attended an open workout Tuesday for Saturday night's fight. "There's always room for more events. I don't think people are tired. It's a new buzz in Dallas we haven't seen before."

Promoters for the bout believe several things are factoring into their favor. The ticket prices remain the same as they were for the March fight, but the number of higher-priced tickets were reduced and more medium-priced tickets are available to attract more fans.

Pacquiao, considered along with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as one of the top fighters in the sport, is an attraction himself.

Then there's Margarito from Tijuana, Mexico. His Mexican heritage appeals to the huge Latino fan base in the Southwest. Plus, Margarito is a better fighter than Clottey and has more appeal.

In addition to his appearance in big fights in the past, he Margarito is fighting in the United States for the first time since a year-long ban for getting caught using illegal hand wraps.

"You have a guy in the ring now with a better chance of winning," said Fort Worth-based promoter/manager Lester Bedford. "He knows what it takes to win a major fight. He knows how to win in these big-fight situations. He's more of a threat than Clottey."

The first fight at Cowboys Stadium was challenging for the promoters. They had 5 1/2 weeks to promote it because talks had broken down for a potential blockbuster event for Pacquiao-Mayweather.

With Saturday's fight in the works since August, promoters think the result will be better.

"Boxing is a world sport, and this is played to a world stage," said Todd du Boef, president of Top Rank. "The Rangers and Cowboys are localized products. The Super Bowl is a global product, and that's what championship fights bring. It brings global products."

Promoters won't say how many tickets have been sold, but the first fight at Cowboys Stadium had an estimated walk-up of 20,000 fans. Arum said walk-up sales are counted from Friday to Saturday night.

Arum expects another big walk-up.

"They say when they do Mexican soccer games, the walk-up is more than the advance sales," Arum said. "If you have an event that appeals to Mexicans, they tend to be the last-minute buyers."

Will fight fans buy it?

"Big time," said Stan Holmes, a fight fan from Arlington. "Hispanics will come to the fight and people want to see Pacquiao. It's going to be a big mix of fans. I think it will be a one-sided fight, to be honest with you, but everyone wants to see this fight. I don't think fans are tapped out in any way."

Calvin Watkins covers boxing for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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