GRAPEVINE, Texas — They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum thinks big.
So it seemed only natural that Arum, along with his new best buddy, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, would get together to put on a fight at Jones’ spectacular $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington
That is where welterweight titleholder and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao will face former titleholder Joshua Clottey on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET, $49.95) in a fight that Arum considers one of the crowning achievements of his storied 44-year career as a boxing promoter.
The reason is simple: location, location, location.
Pacquiao-Clottey is certainly a significant fight just based on the involvement of Pacquiao, boxing’s biggest worldwide star. But the stadium also plays a major role in generating interest.
“Much of the buzz is because it’s at Cowboys Stadium. Of course, it’s Manny Pacquiao, but it’s also Cowboys Stadium,” said Bill Caplan, Arum’s longtime publicist and boxing lifer.
Said HBO senior vice president Mark Taffet, who runs HBO PPV, “I’ve been involved in nearly 160 pay-per-view events since 1991 with HBO PPV. This is the first pay-per-view fight we are doing in a stadium, so it’s a totally unique experience for us. From a business perspective, as you know, Pacquiao-Clottey is called ‘The Event,’ so there was very specific recognition about the importance of Cowboys Stadium and what we believed that this stadium was bringing to the table.”
That’s exactly what Arum hoped for when he talked to Jones about getting away from the same old, same old casino fights.
“I am really, really excited,” Arum said. “You get stale doing the same thing over and over again, going back to the casinos to put on these big events. With this event going to a fabulous, fabulous stadium like Cowboys Stadium, we’re bringing the fights to the people. I think boxing can once again establish its place among the major sports in this country as it is in so many places in the world.”
Promoting fights in major arenas is not new for Arum, but it’s been awhile. And now he is happy to return and do it atCowboys Stadium, where a crowd of 45,000 is expected.
“He’s been promoting for 40-something years and this really gets his juices flowing,” Caplan said. “It recharges Bob’s battery. It’s huge in a business way and in a psychological way for Bob. The interest and the enthusiasm never ends if you do new things.”
Arum promoted the first fight at the Houston Astrodome, then considered an architectural marvel, when Muhammad Alidefended the heavyweight championship against Cleveland Williams in 1966.
“That building just blew me away. I had never seen anything like it before in my life, the suites, the amenities, there was nothing like it in the world,” Arum said. “Now it’s 44 years later and I’m back in another part of Texas. Cowboys Stadium is the most phenomenal building I have ever been in. Words really can’t describe it, from that big screen [the stunning 72-foot high, 160-foot wide, $40 million HD video board] to the restaurants to the electronics. It is something really, really special. So it is a really great honor for me to be the first one to do a fight at the Astrodome and the first person to do a fight in Cowboys Stadium. I love that. … It’s just thrilling.“