Chris Wilkins, Dallas Morning News
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | 6:35 p.m.
The American business juggernaut that is the NFL historically has been fairly hesitant to extend its influence in aiding other sports, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday.
However, Jones says the similarities he sees between boxing and football have made it easy to connect the two in promoting the welterweight bout between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey Saturday at Jones' $1.2 billion stadium — and should make it easy to continue to do so down the road.
"The NFL in general is reluctant to cross over with other sports," said Jones during a media conference call Tuesday. "But in a very obvious way, people will recognize there is a cross over in interest (between football and boxing) and that excites me.
"I'm not trying to be presumptuous about boxing and the NFL, but we all know how popular the NFL is right now. It raises all boats and it will raise boxing in general. That's a big thing to me."
During the course of Tuesday's 40-minute call, Jones seemingly made every effort to compare the two sports and clearly believes that boxing stands to benefit much from connecting itself to the NFL and, specifically, the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones, a longtime boxing fan who has witnessed greats such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler fight, initially was interested in bringing the proposed super-fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
He called Top Rank promoter Bob Arum at his house in Las Vegas to make a bid for the fight.
"I wanted that fight between those two fighters worse than my next breath," Jones said.
Although Jones lost in his bid for that fight when Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who represents Mayweather, canceled a trip to the stadium in December, Jones jumped at the chance to bring Pacquiao to Texas when Arum called him back in January.
With the obvious hope that Dallas Cowboys Stadium will be a front-runner for major boxing matches in the future, Jones laid out his belief that between the higher seating capacity his venue offers and the television exposure of his football team, it deserves to be.
"It creates more interest and more visibility in fighting," Jones said. "Fighting can participate in the kind of visibility that the Cowboys have. We have the most programming in all of television. There are more people watching television because we play.
"Vicariously, these fights can benefit from that. That lifts boxing."
On the surface, it appears as though the boxing community is getting onboard with Jones's way of thinking.
Fighters wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys, cheerleaders attending the press conference and A-list boxers attending the event signal that boxing is happy to be in Texas.
"As far as (comparing it to) a Las Vegas fight, this is much more exciting," Arum said. "I live in Las Vegas, and I love Las Vegas, but fight tickets are limited by the size of the arena and generally go to high-rolling casino customers. Here, the sales pitch is for the public.
"I believe going to these large venues and moving big boxing matches around the country will certainly help in making it what it always should have been — a major sport in this country."
More than 40,000 tickets have been sold and there are plans in place to create more seating if the demand rises. Tickets are priced between $50 and $700.
Top Rank is bringing along its best talent to soak up the atmosphere and Arum is anticipates an interest from his fighters to return to the state-of-the-art stadium sooner rather than later.
"Kelly Pavlik, Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Miguel Cotto will all be here," Arum said. "Those are fighters that I hope one day I'm talking to Jerry about having star in a fight at Cowboys Stadium.
"They want to look and see for themselves the incredible venue and they all hope one day they'll be featured on a card here."
Arum's biggest stars won't be the only athletes in the arena, as Jones said he had invited all former and current Dallas Cowboys players and was expecting many of them to show.
That also included former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, who is a huge fight fan according to Jones.
"I'm sitting right now with Michael Irvin who is anxiously awaiting Manny to come in and train so the answer is definitely yes," said Jones, when asked if the football community was excited about the fight. "I've invited, and have received huge interest by, all of the former Dallas Cowboys as well as everybody that is on the team.
"Long before this fight, we've had such great fighting interest on our team. We have a lot of interest in boxing among the Cowboys and among the NFL in general."
If Jones's sales pitch somehow isn't strong enough in the eyes of Arum to warrant consideration for the biggest fights between the brightest stars in the future, at the very least Arum has learned he can count on an enthusiastic effort from the Dallas Cowboys owner, who Arum said he now considers one of the greatest partners he's ever worked with.
"When we got Clottey as an opponent to Pacquiao, I called up Jerry and asked him, 'Would you be interested in doing that fight?'" Arum said. "He invited me to an NFL playoff game between the Eagles and the Cowboys. That was Saturday. On Sunday, we met in Jerry's suite and within an hour we had cut a deal.
"The thing that's blown me away is what an unbelievable promoter this guy is. He never gets tired. We took a two-day trip to Mexico and he was able to drink everybody under the table and kept going. He gave dozens and dozens of interviews to Mexican media outlets. It's really something to see."