Boxing’s power brokers again proved why they prefer the safe and mundane when it involves locations for major fights.
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas will be the site of the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight on May 6. Two weeks after announcing the fight and date, Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Alvarez, praised the features of the T-Mobile Arena as reason why again another marquee fight heads to Las Vegas instead of other cities.
When the fight was first confirmed, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was considered as another possible site to host the bout.
The 90,000-seat stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, likely would have doubled or even tripled the 20,000 attendance expected at the new Las Vegas arena.
Given Alvarez’s and Chavez’s appeal in their native Mexico, a crowd surpassing 50,000 seemed a natural at AT&T Stadium. Such an attendance figure usually ends in headlines or lead paragraphs detailing the positive highlights boxing could use.
Contemporary boxing, however, features different thinkers. Safe economics and familiarity with location usually result with events like Alvarez-Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas.
“When my team and I talked about where to hold what will be the biggest fight of the first half of the year, we kept coming back to Las Vegas,” Golden Boy chairman Oscar De La Hoya said in a statement. “The biggest fights of the last 30-plus years have taken place in Vegas, and it is a natural home for this enormous event.”
De La Hoya personifies the fighter who shunned other cities when it involved signature bouts. Ten of De La Hoya’s last 12 fights were in Las Vegas. The six-division champion never fought outside the United States, not even in his ancestral country Mexico.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought the last 13 bouts of his career in Las Vegas. The highly anticipated bout between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015 easily could have attracted capacity crowds at AT&T Stadium or other football facilities.
Instead, the bout ended at the now-bland 16,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena.
What a difference from earlier boxing eras, when Muhammad Ali fought in Africa, Asia and Europe, and Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran met at Olympic Stadium in Montreal and the New Orleans Superdome. And in the pre- and post-World War II years Yankee Stadium was a popular hotbed for lucrative fights.
Thankfully, all is not lost in this Las Vegas-or-bust mind-set espoused by most U.S.-based promoters and top fighters.
Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, considered by many as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter, has never fought in Las Vegas. With a fight résumé spanning seven countries, Golovkin will return to New York’s Madison Square Garden for the fifth time on March 18 to defend his multiple-sanctioning-body belts against Daniel Jacobs.
Anthony Joshua has suddenly become the face of the heavyweight division. Any challenger willing to confront the recently crowned champion will likely need to visit Joshua’s native England.
As a telling sign of Joshua’s growing popularity, his next title defense against former champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 29 will be at London’s 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium. The fight is expected to sell out.
AROUND THE RING
▪ Hollywood resident Eric Tudor won the 112-pound National Silver Gloves championship Saturday in Independence, Missouri. Tudor, 15, defeated Maximus Castro of Phoenix in the final.
Plantation resident Xander Zayas was the runner-up in the 106-pound division. Zayas, 14, lost a decision against Xavier Nuñez of Corpus Christi, Texas, in the final.
Tudor and Zayas train at the Sweatbox Boxing and Fitness Gym in Davie.
▪ The cancellation of the Miguel Cotto-James Kirkland bout on Feb. 25 also included the entire undercard, which featured Miami resident Guillermo Rigondeaux. The native of Cuba was scheduled to defend his WBA super-bantamweight title against Moises Flores.
The card was scrapped after Kirkland sustained a broken nose last week.
Friday (10:05 p.m., Showtime): Ivan Baranchyk vs. Abel Ramos, 10, super lightweights.