The San Antonio metropolitan complex is vastly underrated when it comes to its value as a sports mecca. It has proven in the past that it will come out to support big-time boxing and it is doing it once again, as the April 20 junior middleweight unification fight between Austin Trout and Canelo Alvarez has already sold more than 31,000 tickets.
Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
Jesse James Leija, the San Antonio native and former world champion who is handling the local promotion for Golden Boy, is likely to open up the higher levels of the vast Alamodome to handle ticket demand.
Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy’s founder, has had good luck in the past in Texas. In 1998 he faced off against Patrick Charpentier in a relatively non-competitive matchup and still drew 45,368 to the Sun Bowl in El Paso. The Trout-Alvarez fight should approach those numbers, or even exceed them, before all is said and done. Whether it would break the Alamodome record of 58,891 that came out to see the Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker fight in 1993 is another question.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that both fighters have some geographical connection to the area. Trout was actually born in El Paso, although he was raised in Las Cruces, NM, which is part of the same metropolitan statistical area. Across the Rio Grande from El Paso is Juarez, Mexico, where a large contingent of Alvarez fans will come from (not to mention a sizable contingent of Latin fans from southwest Texas). Together, there are two million people living in the El Paso-Juarez area, and many of them are obviously boxing enthusiasts. They will travel. San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States, with over 1.3 million inhabitants, and 63% of them are Hispanic.
Trout says that even though he is the Texas native, he feels as if he is still fighting on the road. He went to Guadalajara two years ago to fight Canelo’s brother, Rigoberto Alvarez, winning the WBA 154-pound title he still holds. He has also been to San Luis Potosi to fight David Lopez, and most significantly, went to Madison Square Garden last time out and fought Miguel Cotto in front of a heavy Puerto Rican crowd. Trout, who had essentially been laboring in obscurity, got on the map with that one, winning a unanimous decision and a spot in this spotlight bout.
Alvarez has fought more recognizable names in his last three bouts, as he put his WBC title on the line against Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley and Josesito Lopez. Previously he had scored wins over the likes of Lovemore N’Dou, Matthew Hatton and Carlos Baldomir.
This fight represents something of a rarity, in that it involves two crowned champions, who have held their titles for a while and who are still undefeated as professionals. It was originally scheduled to be the main support on the May 4 card on Showtime between Floyd Mayweather and Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas, but Alvarez chose to have his own stand-alone date, even if it was not going to be on pay-per-view. When it comes to live gate sales, this location has certainly been a winner. And few people could be more pleased than Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager of sports, who, like Trout, was born in the state of Texas.
A high-energy crowd will undoubtedly add to the atmosphere, and that makes for great television. According to Espinoza, both of these fighters have been in bouts that have set all-time ratings records for Showtime within the last year, so they are confident that they will not lack for home viewers either.