They say that everything's bigger in Texas.
The saying holds true when it comes to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' foray into the boxing game. Tomorrow night, Jones will play host to around 45,000 boxing fans as the sport's biggest attraction in Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao puts his WBO Welterweight title on the line against the tough as nails Ghanaian in Joshua Clottey.
Not a bad way to introduce the fight game to the brand new $1.2 billion dollar Cowboys Stadium. But then again, the former Arkansas oil man wouldn't have it any other way.
From the moment he purchased the Cowboys from Bum Bright back in 1989 he made headlines by immediately canning long time coach Tom Landry in favor of bringing in good friend Jimmy Johnson from the University of Miami. Despite Landry no longer being on top of his game, the Dallas fans and media crucified him for it.
Firing Landry wasn't one of his proudest moments, but only one thing matters to Jones.
If ticket sales are any indication, the fight billed as The Event has achieved just that.
As this goes to print, over 41,000 tickets have already been sold, and Top Rank President Bob Arum anticipates the final few thousand to be swept up in the final hours leading up to the bout.
For years, decades even, the bright lights of Las Vegas has been reserved for the sports biggest events. After all, it's the "Boxing Capital of the World". Which is why some might have been left scratching their heads as it was announced that Pacquiao's next fight would take place in Dallas.
But with Jones' passion for the sport, it should really come as no surprise.
"It is unique that where I grew up in Arkansas we had a great fighter named Sonny Ingram, a Golden Gloves legend, and he had a great boxing program out of my boy’s club.
We had great fighters come through there, and I weighed about 100 pounds, and we’d get up there and box it up when we wanted to—so I had involvement as a youngster, but was more involved as a fan."
His involvement as a fan allowed him to witness the brilliance of some of the all-time greats.
"My wife and I would travel the country to watch fights. We saw Bob’s fight at the Superdome, and we’ve been to Las Vegas and are great fans of Las Vegas. We saw Ali fight several times, and saw Sugar Ray and Marvin Hagler fight a lot."
In the fight business, even the greats suffer their fair share of heartache. It didn't take long for Jones to get a taste of that himself. As details for a bout between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. were being worked out, Jones threw his hat in the ring to host it.
Long before the fight imploded, Jones and his stadium were out of the running in favor of Las Vegas.
"I wanted that fight here between those two fighters worse than my next breath, and so I was willing to wait as long as I needed to wait to have them join me. Bob was real sensitive, and made it clear that the circumstances were not a negative about the Stadium, or my interest in it. It was more about just getting a fight done.
I am glad I went through it because it made me ready for the Pacquiao/Clottey fight. It was like, ‘put me in coach, I’m hot.’ Somehow and someway we wanted to have Manny fighting here, and here it is."
While Pacquiao and Mayweather would have been the ultimate scenario for Jones, Pacquiao and Clottey is a pretty solid consolation prize in itself.
The fact is, Joshua Clottey is a tough skilled fighter who can give just about anyone a tough night—as he proved in his bouts with Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Zab Judah.
And when it comes to Pacquiao, his appeal to the sports world and beyond has become so great that people would tune in to watch him fight Ed "Too Tall" Jones.
"We have a lot of fight fans among the Cowboys, and NFL players in general. The NFL is reluctant to crossover with other sports, but the people recognize that there is a crossover, and that really excites me.
The NFL raises awareness to all sports, and that is a big thing to me. We are getting short on time, and I want to create some action while I am still in the ring," Jones elaborated.
The energy of the fight had one familiar former Cowboy sitting in on the call alongside Jones.
"Since I am standing right here looking at Michael Irvin, I will use him as an example. Michael has an aura that everyone that is associated with him and [have] won championships that people say we couldn’t have done it without him.
He certainly was a great receiver, and made a lot of great plays, but that wasn’t it. He had a way of creating energy. He did it at practice. He would challenge at practice. He would lift the level. Manny has it.
"It is taking a talent and maximizing it and walking the walk. When we see that done successfully, and taken to a level, he walks in and has that aura. The world knows what his countrymen feel about him—all of that comes in the room with him. That is why he will be the first fighter to fight in Cowboys Stadium," he added.
The Event: Pacquiao vs. Clottey might be the first fight in the brief history of the stadium, but Jones indicates that it won't be the last.
"I have every incentive to be involved with our stadium in the future of boxing. Logistically, it is located right, but it has a synergy with a lot of our fan base. It is no accident that there are going to be many football players at this fight. There is a common interest there. They are both physical sports. All of this fits with the Cowboys.
I have arrived with a good horse in Bob. It would have been different if I had to partner up with someone of less integrity."
Time will tell whether or not future fights will take place at the Dallas venue.
But it begins on Saturday night when Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao takes on the best fighter Ghana has to offer in Joshua Clottey. It doesn't matter if you grew up in Manila or Manhattan, everyone from the most die hard boxing fans to the casual observer of the sweet science will be tuning in to this intriguing bout.
And much to his delight, it will all unfold in the house that Jones built.
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