Ranking the 10 Best Cities to Host a Marquee Boxing Event

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2013

Ranking the 10 Best Cities to Host a Marquee Boxing Event

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    Who doesn't love a huge fight?

    Marquee boxing matches, despite the naysayers who proclaim the sky is falling, are still huge sporting events. There's a reason that the top two people on the recently released Forbes magazine list of the highest grossing pro athletes are boxers.

    A lot of things need to come together for a huge event. You obviously need fighters who can make a good fight, and who people want to see. But you also need a good location. The atmosphere in the arena, the fans, the host city can make or break an event.

    While we can't take care of the fighters part of the equation, we certainly can rank the 10 best cities to host a marquee boxing event.

10. Dallas

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    Dallas is one of those cities that is still trying to establish its identity in hosting major boxing events. It has met with some limited success in recent years, despite the great efforts of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but has massive potential.

    Cowboys Stadium is a huge, state of the art arena that has the capacity to hold over 50,000 people for boxing. Manny Pacquiao has fought here twice, against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito in 2010, but other marquee names have been hard to attract.

    Top Rank kingpin Bob Arum has expressed an interest in staging a potential Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. rematch there sometime next year, and why not? Dallas has a huge, modern facility, and is located near major bastions of boxing. 

9. Carson

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    There will be some who will argue over the inclusion of Carson, Calif. on this list, but the city has done a tremendous job recently of attracting marquee names and great fights. 

    The Home Depot Center is a great outdoor venue, and in recent years, it has hosted a slew of great fights, including Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez, Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto and the first Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado bout.

    You can argue that those aren't marquee bouts, but every one of them were exciting, well attended and great fights. With the sellout crowd on hand June 8 for Maidana's big win over Lopez, there are sure to be more fights headed Carson's way in the future.

8. Mexico City

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    There are few places on this planet that are more rabid and boxing crazy than Mexico. The Latin American nation has produced literally dozens of world champions and some of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. 

    Mexico City is a hotbed for boxing, and you'll be hard pressed to find a better atmosphere for a fight. Some of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing got their start fighting here, and that was before they built the brand-new, beautiful Mexico City Arena.

    With a rich boxing history, a nice modern arena and fans who know their stuff, Mexico City is a fun place to see a fight and a great choice to host one.

7. San Antonio

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    San Antonio's Alamodome is simply one of the best venues for boxing in the United States. Again, it's all about location, and this arena is perfectly situated in, and near several boxing hotspots. If you put a fight here that will sell to the local population, they will turn out in droves, and they know their stuff. 

    Most recently, the Alamodome played host to the huge junior middleweight showdown between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Austin Trout. Alvarez won the fight, which was sold out, inside a festive arena loaded with fans of the Mexican star. 

    The only thing that San Antonio loses points for, and you can argue big points, is that Texas has a history of shoddy judging and inept refereeing. Otherwise, you can't miss by having a fight here.

6. Los Angeles

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    Just minutes from the iconic Hollywood sign and the beaches of Southern California sits the Staples Center, which has been the host of several big boxing matches since 2000.

    Everyone from Oscar De La Hoya to Lennox Lewis to Manny Pacquiao have fought here, and just like everything else about LA, the venue provides starpower of its own.

    Los Angeles has a huge, and growing, boxing fanbase that is aided by its proximity to Mexico and the large number of Latin Americans living in the area. It's a city that knows its boxing and comes out in huge numbers for a big fight.

    Combine that with the glitz of being in LA and you've got a great place to host a fight.

5. Manchester

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    Manchester, England is a city most associated with soccer, but it also provides one of the greatest big-fight atmospheres in the entire world. Chanting fans, hooligans, and a raucous and festive atmosphere make this place one of the most fun to see a fight.

    The Manchester Arena, formerly the M.E.N. Arena, is the main venue for fights in the area. It was the main stomping grounds for years of British fighters, such as Manchester native Ricky Hatton. 

    British fight fans are amongst the greatest in the world, and it was a tough call between Manchester and another European locale for the best international venue...but up next is...

4. London

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    Everyone knows that our friendly neighbors across the pond love themselves some fights. All you need to do is sit in the crowd for a big fight and enjoy the atmosphere. 

    If you're in London for a big fight you have to be prepared for crazy crowds vocally supporting their fighter and a festive atmosphere that more resembles a carnival than a sports event. 

    London boasts one of the biggest and most modern arenas in the world the O2 Arena, which has hosted some big fights already and seems destined for more. 

    Just a few weeks ago, the O2 hosted the highly anticipated rematch between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler. The atmosphere and event were a huge success, and the crowd went home happy when the hometown fighter won. 

    Atmosphere, plus fight fans who know their stuff, equals the best international venue to host a big fight.

3. Atlantic City

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    Boardwalk Hall, located right on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, is a smaller venue that is filled with a history of some great fights, and iconic fighters. 

    Atlantic City is a gambling resort town that has fallen on some hard times recently but still provides a great atmosphere for a big fight. There just seems to be some connection between the cling of slot machines, the roll of the dice and boxing that can't be explained. It's something you just feel.

    Many great fighters have called the Jersey Shore town a home over the years and helped make both their names and the reputation of Atlantic City as a boxing town. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, one of boxing's greatest blood and guts warriors, fought there 23 times in his career. 

    Mike Tyson also fought there many times during his rise to the top of the heavyweight division, and he didn't forget about the place when he became champion. 

    Atlantic City, despite all its other problems, is still a great place for a fight. 

2. New York City

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    Madison Square Garden—"The World's Most Famous Arena"— has been the home of more than its fair share of marquee boxing events over the years. It has a rich history and tradition with the sport of boxing that easily places New York City near the top of any list on best boxing cities.

    Located right in the heart of the social and media capital of the world, New York City has hosted huge boxing events for decades and shows no sign of slowing down with a new world-class venue—the Barclays Center in Brooklyn—now competing for big matches as well. 

    In just a few months of operation, Barclays has hosted legends such as light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and up-and-coming young champions like Danny Garcia. But until proved otherwise, MSG is still the place to be, and it has hosted many huge fights with more sure to come.

    "The Fight" in 1971 between Muhammad Ali and "Smokin" Joe Frazier took place in MSG, as did the heavyweight unification bout between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. More recently, Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto has made NYC his fighting home and was undefeated there until Austin Trout beat him last December.

1. Las Vegas

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    When it comes to huge boxing events, there is no bigger place than Sin City. Las Vegas, Nev. has hosted hundreds of huge boxing events over the years and has such a rich history with the sport that it's a no-brainer for the No. 1 spot.

    One of the things that makes Vegas special is that it has venues capable of fitting everything from the gigantic (MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay) to the medium-sized (Thomas & Mack Center) to the smaller cards (the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel). 

    Over the years, everyone from James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons to Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather have fought in Vegas, and nearly all major fights are held there nowadays. 

    And with good reason. Huge fights aren't just boxing events. They often take on that glitzy, surreal, feeling, and no place personifies that better than Las Vegas. Everything form its history, to the lights on the Strip, make it the greatest place to host a major boxing event, not just in the United States, but in the world.