Whether You Like Him or Not, Jerry Jones Could Save Boxing

Greg RiotAnalyst IMarch 12, 2010

Jerry Jones isn’t exactly a beloved figure in sports.  For Dallas Cowboys’ fans who have seen their ‘Boys fall from greatness under Jimmie Johnson and Barry Switzer to a team that can’t win a playoff game, Jones is quickly becoming the equivalent to an eccentric old uncle. 

He had some good moments, but that’s about it.  One of his good moments occurred last year when he opened the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.  The stadium, which normally seats 80,000 for football, but did seat over 105,000 for the opening football game between the Cowboys and the New York Giants on September 2009, cost $1.2 billion to create.

It’s a work of art as far as venues are concerned.  Jones’ idea is to turn Cowboys Stadium into a “sports mecca.”  So far so good as not only has Cowboys’ Stadium hosted the Dallas Cowboys’ football games but it’s also hosted the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.  Over 108,700 people attended the NBA All-Star Game. 

That’s a lot of people crammed into a place to watch basketball but, by all accounts, the event was a success.  The 2011 Super Bowl will be held in the new Cowboys Stadium.  In 2012, the NCAA Basketball Tournament will be held there. 

Sports isn’t the only thing that the stadium is designed to hold.  Concerts, religious ceremonies and rodeos will all going to be held at Cowboys’ Stadium, from time to time, in the very near future.  None of those events are risky for Jones and Cowboys Stadium. What’s occurring at the $1.2 billion sports mecca this Saturday might be.


Event:  Joshua Clottey (+450 ) vs. Manny Pacquiao ( -700 )

(Fight Odds Provided by BetUS.com )

Cowboys Stadium
When: Mar. 13
HBO Pay-Per-View

On Saturday night, boxings biggest star will descend upon the Coliseum of modern day sports, Cowboys Stadium, to defend his title against an unknown fighter from a Ghana fishing village. Pacquiao, himself a former village boy from the Philippines, was supposed to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Mar. 13, but a dispute regarding blood testing, led to that fight being squashed.

In stepped Jerry Jones and Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum to find a way to turn Clottey and Pacquiao into an important fight.  Arum has been promoting boxing for over 40 years.  He’s seen the fight game lose it’s man on the streets mentality, going from championship fights on Saturday afternoons for all to see, to exclusive high-roller events where only the biggest names in Los Angeles and Las Vegas can afford to view live.

That won’t be the case at the new Cowboys Stadium where the venue will be re-figured for 45,000 people and where the cost of the cheapest ticket will only be $20.  “In Las Vegas tickets are limited to the high-roller types,” Arum said.  “Here (meaning Cowboys Stadium) the tickets go to regular customers.”

Arum, of course, isn’t all that excited about giving tickets away to regular customers.  He just realizes, rightly, that charging more than $20 for a ticket to watch a boxing match in the nose-bleed section of a 45,000 person venue probably isn’t the best way to fill the seats.

For Jerry Jones, the Clottey vs. Pacquiao fight will help him turn Cowboys Stadium into even more of that “sports mecca”.  Jones has never come out and said publicly that his goal is to save boxing, but if he can pull the Pacquiao fight off, if Jerry Jones can make the Clottey vs. Pacquiao fight one of the most profitable and watched pay-per-view sporting events in history, then Jones will be well on his way to saving boxing.

Under the care of Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Mixed Martial Arts has gained in popularity while the popularity of traditional boxing has begun to wane.  Some of that has to do with the fact that there are only a few stars and few high profile promoters in boxing. 

Jones isn’t a boxer or promoter.  He’s simply a businessman who sees an opportunity in taking the world’s most respected boxer, who has an entire country of fans, and pitting him against an unknown, Rocky type fighter in America’s most prized sports’ stadium.

Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be Joshua Clottey, it was supposed to be Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the tickets, but that’s okay.  Jones has an amazing ability to turn a weed into a rose and he’s even better at dressing up that weed with other promotional materials.  Both Pacquiao and Clottey waltzed around Cowboys Stadium during media day wearing No. 13 Dallas Cowboy jerseys.  That’s a Jones’ stamp if there ever was one.

Again, Jones only really recognizes the business opportunity, but if he can pull it off, if he can really get 45,000 people to watch Pacquiao take on a fighter that only a handful of fans recognize, then more fights at Cowboys Stadium will follow. 

More fight fans will begin to pay attention and boxing might actually become more than just a specialized sport that’s held in Las Vegas.  It could become a “new” sport.  It could become…MMA.  At least, in the promotional and popularity sense and for boxing and fight fans, that would be a very, very good thing.