<
>

Jones hints that fight is nearing sellout

3/10/2010 - NFL Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Wednesday afternoon's news conference between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey promoting their Saturday fight at Cowboys Stadium was without the trash talking and other bravado seen in someone else who might be interested in this event.

There were subtle reminders from Pacquiao, Clottey and promoter Bob Arum about being a pro. And although nobody mentioned Floyd Mayweather Jr., considered along with Pacquiao as one of the best fighters in boxing pound-for-pound, it was clear he was on people's minds.

"Both sides, no trash talking," said Pacquiao, who will defend his WBO welterweight title. "We can be a good example to everybody."

Added Clottey: "We have much respect."

Yet things are getting spirited between Clottey and Pacquiao.

Clottey said nobody has ever rocked him with a shot, and he will face a man with 38 knockouts in 53 pro fights.

"Nobody has every beat me or cracked me," said Clottey, who has lost three close fights. "I want to see what he can do."

Pacquiao and Clottey will probably do it in front of a sellout crowd in the first fight at Cowboys Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, fresh off morning meetings to discuss free agency with his NFL team, said there are a few hundred seats available for the 45,000 seating capacity. He expects the event to be a sellout.

"We are really moving toward that number real good," Jones said. "Down to just a few hundred, and I'm talking about just a few hundred at different levels."

Jones hinted that the fight could be a sellout by the end of the business day Wednesday. Jones, however, needs this fight, called The Event, to succeed because he put down a $7 million site fee, with some conditions. A return on his investment could lead to future fights.

For a proposed Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Jones guaranteed $25 million for a site fee, the largest in boxing history, and said he would have needed to sell 100,000 seats to make the financing work.

For this one on Saturday night, he doesn't need as much, just a superstar fighter in Pacquiao who is a national icon in his native Philippines, where after the fight he will finish his campaign for a run at a congressional seat.

"Even a greater story is that he hasn't lost his humanity," Arum said of Pacquiao. "With the storm, corruption and poverty in his country, he wants to change that. Be something different. I hope this is the last prefight press conference where I introduce him as plain old Manny Pacquiao. I want to introduce him as congressman Manny Pacquiao."

The fighters will see each other one more time at Friday's weigh-in before Saturday's fight.

Waiting is Mayweather, who while not here, isn't forgotten.

Calvin Watkins covers boxing for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter.