Saturday, December 19, 2009

Matt Aguilar: Fight at Cowboys Stadium would make boxing relevant again

You could probably point to June 27, 1988, as the last time the whole world really cared about a big boxing event.

That night, Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks squared off for the unified, linear heavyweight championship at the Convention Center in Atlantic City. With Tyson's personal problems swirling out of control and making daily headlines -- and Spinks considered "Iron Mike's" most dangerous challenge -- it seemed "Once and For All" was on everyone's mind once the first-round bell rang.

But, not long after Spinks hit the deck 91 seconds into Round 1, boxing began its slow decline into the niche sport that it is today -- aresult of the corrupt sanctioning bodies, the influx of world titles and the abandonment of network television and its sponsors.

Since then, it's been searching for an avenue to make it relevant again.

That avenue is here now. It's just a question of whether boxing will accept the offer.

For the past week, Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum, Floyd Mayweather Jr. advisor Richard Schaefer and HBO have been in serious negotiations about the anticipated March 13 mega-fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr.

The biggest debate regards site: will the fight of the decade be in Las Vegas -- boxing's fight capital that is more than capable of putting on its standard glitzy, world class show? Or will it be in the new, multi-billion dollar Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which has a capacity of 100,000 and a jumbotron the size of a small country.




owner Jerry Jones -- who offered a reported $25 million to get the fight -- made some excellent points in an interview with boxing writer Dan Rafael this week, most notably that his franchise can increase boxing's viability.
"I think the fight has the ability to transcend boxing and the size of the crowd, and facility is part of that," Jones said. "You build brands with brands. When you have an association with successful brands like the Cowboys and the NFL, it lifts all boats. I don't want to be presumptuous, but boxing has a chance to elevate itself. Shouldn't you look at what you can gain in your association with a brand like NFL football? When they throw the first punch in Cowboys Stadium, it will inextricably be associated with the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys."

Frankly, folks, nobody can say it much better than that.

We've said it before, we'll say it again: Las Vegas was and always will be a great site for boxing. It is the most experienced, most trusted host to big fights in the world. But, in order for boxing to grow, it must step out of its comfort zone.

At least for one fight. The result would not only help Las Vegas in the long term.It also would help boxing.

Afterall, we don't want it to be another 21 years before boxing has a chance to be relevant again.

Pavlik vs. Espino

WBC/WBO middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik returns to the ring this weekend for the first time in 10 months, taking on Miguel Espino in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio (7 p.m., today, pay-per-view).

Pavlik had a nasty staph infection on his finger that, at one point, brought him close to death. He had numerous fights with Paul Williams scrapped as a result.

Now,"The Ghost" is healed, ready to take on Espino(20-2-1, 9 knockouts).

Pavlik (35-1, 32 KOs), needed a soft touch to get backinto the swing of things, and he found him. Espino lost toPeter Manfredo Jr. -- the former "Contender" fighter who was never really a contender.

Not a ringing endorsement.

Pavlik by ninth-round TKO.

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