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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arum Hits the Big D

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."


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