BOB ARUM: I am really excited. You get stale doing the same thing over and over again. Going back to casinos to put on these big events, I think that going to this fabulous stadium like Cowboys Stadium bringing the fights to the people, I think that boxing once again establishes boxing as being one of the major sports in this country as it is so many other places in the world.
Can you compare doing the first fight at the Astrodome to doing the first fight at Cowboys Stadium?
BOB ARUM: 1966 we led with Ali and did a couple of fights in England and in Germany and then we got a call from the Astrodome and he said bring Ali down here and I’ll protect you guys and we’ll do a fight against Cleveland Williams. We did and that building just blew me away. I’ve never seen anything before in my life. Suites and the amenities and there was nothing like anywhere in the world. And now 35 years later in another part of Texas, in Cowboys Stadium, it is the most phenomenal building I have ever been in. Words can’t describe it. You have to see it in person, the big screen, and all the restaurants. It is something really special. It is an honor for me to do a fight, Ali vs. Cleveland Williams in the old Astrodome and the first person, company, to do a fight in Cowboys Stadium and in June to do the first fight n the new Yankee Stadium, Foreman/Cotto, it is just thrilling. [note: Arum promoted the last fight in old Yankee Stadium, Ali-Norton III in 1976]
Is there a concern this may be Manny’s last fight with the election coming up?
BOB ARUM: I am not concerned with it. It is Manny’s decision in whatever way he would want to go. I spoke to Manny and I get no such vibes from him. He’s planning to fight again at least once this year should he be successful against Clottey and he has said nothing to me about retirement.
Could he do both?
BOB ARUM: If the Filipino Congressmen are anything like the US Congressmen, they sit around and do nothing most of the year so why wouldn’t he be able to fight.
BOB ARUM: As of this morning there were just over 4000 tickets left to sell and are moving rapidly towards a sellout. At least half are in the $200 plus category. There are less than 1000 in the $750 and $500 category. Party passes are up to Jerry. Jerry is the all-time best promoter, Party Passes for standing room only.
How does it feel compared to Las Vegas or a NY fight?
BOB ARUM: As far as Las Vegas it is more exciting. I love Las Vegas and live in Las Vegas, but the tickets in Las Vegas are limited to the size of the arena and they generally go to high rolling customers. Here the sales pitch is for the public and the same goes in NY, the public has to buy the tickets. It is completely different from a casino setting. That being said, I have not seen, since the Astrodome opened, a situation where the venue plays as big a role as the fighters in selling the event.
Does the venue overshadow the fight?
BOB ARUM: Whatever works. I have never had an experience where the venue has played such a paramount role in the promotion, but all that is good because the proof is in the pudding. It has helped us sell the tickets and it’s helped us get the publicity. The PPV numbers look very strong. The cable companies and the satellite providers are spending tremendous amounts of money advertising this event. I am going to experience the same in June in Yankee Stadium. The first boxing event in sparkling Yankee Stadium will spark tremendous interest and stories about the great fights that took place in the old Yankee Stadium. Like Louis/Schmeling and Ali/Norton.
Is this a great way to re-introduce the sport to the masses?
BOB ARUM: I believe that going to thee large venues and moving these boxing matches around the country will certainly help in branding the sport of boxing and making it what it should have been, a major sport in this country. You can’t be a major sport if all of your big events are in one city where people have to come from all over to attend the event. The Super Bowl, for example, wouldn’t be as important or as big, in my opinion, if it was held in the same city every year.
What have you learned about Jerry Jones?
BOB ARUM: No. 1, I met Jerry about 20 years ago when Jimmy Johnson brought him to one of the fights I was promoting in Las Vegas then I had a number of conversations with him and Al Davis when they were discussing a television deal internally from the NFL. They quizzed me on closed circuit television and various things. When we were talking about the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight, he called me at my house and said that he would like to put a bid in. We tried to arrange a meeting in Dallas and Richard Schaefer wouldn’t get on the plane and that went no place, so when the fight fell apart and we got Clottey as an opponent I called Jerry to see if he was interested and he said yes. He invited Todd and I to the Eagles playoff game on a Saturday and on Sunday we met in Jerry’s suite and within an hour cut the deal. What has blown me away is what an unbelievable promoter this guy is. He never gets tired. We did a two-day trip to Mexico. He kept going. He never stopped doing interviews. He did dozens of interviews with Mexican press. He has been one of the great partners that I have ever worked with.
JERRY JONES: It is great to be on the phone in this workout room and I feel like we’re ready to go practice football. 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. I had more time to go to the fights but since the Cowboys I have been gassed a couple of times and watch Showtime and HBO and it’s been always something that I have followed. 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 and I lived a 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 more involved as a fan.
What was your initial reaction when the first meeting fell through?
JERRY JONES: First off I have learned not to get disappointed. Just keep trying to make things work. 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.
JERRY JONES: First of all, there is no question it creates an intensity that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Let me give you an example…Tex Schramm for 29 years was the Cowboys. I wasn’t there two hours as owner of the Cowboys and he told me that the NFL and the Cowboys could never be a studio game. Everybody follows football primarily through television and only 7% of our fans have ever been in an NFL stadium. So where is all of the energy behind the sport? Numbers of people being involved. The NFL is where it is today because of that. You can take the pageantry of a crowd and the social aspect of having a huge crowd and having people in that crowd that aren’t necessarily the big hitters. The $50 people that are in there. You can get that out over television. That does help the sport. You don’t need that incentive to get the fighters to compete. The 100,000 people led the NBA players to play the most energetic All-Star game that they have had. I really believe that this is good for Las Vegas, not a negative for Las Vegas, to have a great fight in front of thousands of people.
Bob, what do you think about Clottey having Lenny De Jesus, as his trainer after his other trainer could not get his visa?
BOB ARUM: He and Lenny are really getting along well. He claims Lenny has taught him a lot of new things. Lenny has been around the sport for a long time, mostly as a cut man but also as a trainer. You know how much of boxing is mental and Joshua says that he feels confident. Can Lenny De Jesus be mentioned in the same category as a Freddie Roach? Of course not, but there aren’t many trainers around that are in the same category as Freddie.
Is Pacquiao stardom a reason you wanted to have a fight at your place?
JERRY JONES: Manny has had everything to do with it and not because he is on this call with me, but Bob Arum had everything to do with it as well. We have such visibility that we didn’t want to create interest, and I have a responsibility to the Cowboys and the NFL, we don’t want to deal with anything but the top. I made my mind up with the commitment to this stadium that I wasn’t going to be associated with anything but the best and working with the best. The make-up of Bob and Manny is what influenced me. I want to do everything I can to create interest in the stadium. Having Manny here and this competition, it says everything that I want to say, especially to our Mexican boxing fan and football fans and Hispanic fans, but also to everyone that has invested any way in this stadium. Whether it be buying suites or seats. This is going to be big time. I am going to deliver for what it means to you to be involved in this stadium. I am aligned with boxing and I have all the respect in the world for boxing and always thought it needs more exposure.
Are there plans for fights in the future?
JERRY JONES: It is a pleasure dealing with Bob and he came with such great recommendations from people he has dealt with in the past. He certainly has been a credit to sports, period. Obviously it has been oriented to the sport of boxing. 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.
BOB ARUM: It is our intention to bring a lot of big matches to Cowboys Stadium, the fans here are terrific. This is the greatest venue in the world and it is something that can make boxing more visible. We have some of the best boxers in the world that will be coming here to watch the fight – Kelly Pavlik, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Those are fighters that one-day I hope to be talking to Jerry about having them star at Cowboys Stadium. Once this fight is over, Jerry, who has become a good friend of mine, we’ll sit together and plot the future.
Would you be willing to take a smaller all-Hispanic event in the future?
JERRY JONES: I am going to have to get used to it because there is not another Manny Pacquiao out here at this particular time. In sports we are al aware and have the promise of how great they are now and hopefully there is one or others that can stand up. I think if we can count on the coming on of other stars and if you can count on that the answer is yes. I could be interested in up and coming stars that could be less than Manny.
BOB ARUM: This weekend we have on this undercard we have some unbelievably talented young. We have Jose Benavides who is only 17 years old and people are saying he is the next big thing in boxing. Roberto Mariquain from Dallas who is coming in in Dallas Cowboy regalia and everybody says he is a future star. Salvador Sanchez III, the nephew of the late great Salvador Sanchez will be on the card. So there are a lot of future stars out there. There are going to be stars in the audience like Juan Manuel Lopez, the featherweight champion. Miguel Cotto will be here. All the fighters that we have been promoting will be coming to Dallas because they want to see for themselves this incredible venue and they hope that one day they will be featured on a card at Cowboys Stadium.
Have Cowboy players expressed interest in coming to the fight?
JERRY JONES: Michael Irvin is sitting right here waiting for Manny to come in and train today. I have invited all of the former Cowboys and many of them were there when we announced the fight as well as everybody that is on the team. I have had two coaches that are inordinate fight fans. Jimmy Johnson will be here with me, and Bill Parcells who is not going to be able to make it. 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.
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 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 and a lot of people say what is 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 is an impressive young man and in the NFL right now we are looking at all of the college players that were seniors and juniors that want to come in the NFL and it is one with interviews and you have a team of 40 people, doctors and psychiatrists looking for it. You need to get around all that and you and I can see it.
BOB ARUM: Last week Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was in LA and I think he is a tremendous talent who has underachieved and part of it is his work ethic that leaves a little to be desired. So Bruce Trampler took him to the Wild Card Gym and he watched Manny Pacquiao train. His eyes opened because he realized that he had never really trained seriously after watching that. Manny trains for four straight hours without taking a break. The reason Manny Pacquiao is so good is what made Michael Irvin so good… they worked at it and they outworked everyone else.
JERRY JONES: To make that point, training in two-a-days in really hot weather is the greatest challenge for any football player. During two-a-days when you get the break, people go in and lay down in air conditioning and drink liquids and conserve their energy for the afternoon and this is really the challenging time. They used to have to go find Michael Irvin running with is pads on in the hot sun in Texas. Everyone on the team would know that. When he would walk out and sometimes he wouldn’t even have been to bed and everybody knew that too, and he’d walk out and everybody would be stretching on the field and he would just point and say who is it, who is going to outwork me today? That may be it. It is the work.
Will the ticket tax and no income tax give you an upper hand at Cowboys Stadium?
JERRY JONES: I know it gives us an upper hand on anything else we do by having no income tax in Texas. It isn’t just boxing.
BOB ARUM: That is not an accurate statement of the situation. Texas has a 3% boxing commission tax and a 5% state tax so it is an 8% tax. Nevada raised its tax from 4% to 6% and I believe it was justified because our schools are 50th out of 50 among the states. People have to learn that they have to pay for services and they have to pay for decent schools. So as a boxing promoter that does events in Las Vegas I am more than happy to do my share and to go from 4 to 6% is nothing particularly when kids in Nevada are not getting educated. Now maybe that shows my politics but that’s what I believe. There are no income taxes in Nevada, Texas or Florida and as far as that is concerned it is a level playing field.
JERRY JONES: It is numbers. Where the upper hand is, it is possible for some great fights, it is possible to have 100,000 people there. The locale, the center of the country, which we enjoy with the Cowboys and being close to Mexico is what we all enjoy. The other thing is that it is very attractive to my vision of our stadium and my vision of how I want my Cowboys positioned. I want to be very ambitious. But I want to be ambitious with the spirit in mind that this is good for Las Vegas because it creates more interest in fighting and fighting can participate in the kind of visibility that the Cowboys have. We are the most visible in programming in all of television. We have more people watching TVs when we play and vicariously these fights can benefit from that. That lifts all boxing and certainly I will attend fights in Las Vegas because I am a fight fan as well as a Las Vegas fan.
Just so you know, the $50 ticket is more than going to the Cowboys game. One of the things I tried to do in building our stadium was to build it big enough and to have what we call a ‘party pass’, which is standing room only. I did that so as many as 30,000 fans that came to the Giants game could come for $29. It was built so that more fans could afford to come to not only Cowboys games but also other sporting events. I think boxing can benefit from that. I have been rewarded by it, that our Mexican fans shake my hand and say thank you for having this fight here because we are going to get a chance to see boxing.
Manny Pacquiao makes his debut on Good Morning America Weekend This Saturday morning. Check your local listings for times.
The Manny Pacquiao Foundation will be auctioning off original paintings of PacMan, signed personally by Pacquiao, Today! Thursday, March 11 at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in the Longhorn Exhibit Hall E, located on Level 1 of the Convention Center, beginning at 5 p.m. CT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with the Tecate and MP Promotions, THE EVENT: PACQUIAO vs. CLOTTEY will take place This Saturday! March 13, in Cowboys Stadium, The $1.2 billion stadium is the largest, most technologically advanced entertainment venue in the world. Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs), boxing’s only seven-division world champion, of General Santos City, Philippines, will be defending the World Boxing Organization welterweight title against Clottey (35-3, 21 KOs), of Accra, Ghana. THE EVENT will be produced and distributed Live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
Remaining Tickets to Pacquiao vs. Clottey, priced at $700, $500, $300, $200, $100, and $50, can be purchased in-person at the Cowboys Stadium box office in Arlington, or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com.