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'Excited' Jerry Jones Lands Pacquiao-Clottey

Jan 10, 2010 – 3:59 PM
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Lem Satterfield

Lem Satterfield %BloggerTitle%

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sounded like a kid who had just gotten a late Christmas gift as he spoke to FanHouse from Sunday's meeting at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with Top Rank Promotions' president Todd duBoef and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.

"I'm proud to be sitting here with Bob and Todd, and we're having a really good visit," said Jones, whose venue he hoped would soon be hosting its first-ever boxing event. "We are really just now getting into our business here, but we're excited about doing this fight. Personally, I am very, very, very excited to be holding our very first boxing event."

At the time, about noon on in Arlington, Arum said that the trio was "very close -- about an hour or two" from completing the deal for Jones' venue to host Filipino star Manny Pacquiao's March 13 defense of his WBO welterweight (147 pounds) title against Joshua Clottey of Accra, Ghana.

The deal was completed shortly before 4 p.m., and by just after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Arum and duBoef were on a plane heading back to their office in Las Vegas.

"Jerry Jones knows exactly how big and important this event is, which is why it was so easy to put this deal together. As a lifelong Giants fan, I had to receive special dispensation from Steve Tisch, the Giants' Chairman and Executive Vice President, to bring this event to Cowboys Stadium, and he blessed the deal," said Arum.

"If Jerry could sell me on Cowboys Stadium, and the North Texas market, you know he is going to have no problems selling out Cowboys Stadium on March 13," said Arum. "We are ready to roll up our sleeves and promote Manny's debut as world welterweight champion. Manny Pacquiao is the lone star of boxing. There isn't a more appropriate place in the world for him to fight."

The fight has been a long time coming for Jones.

"I have wanted to bring a major boxing event to North Texas for many years, so why not bring in the biggest and the best? Manny Pacquiao is boxing's No. 1 pound-for-pound attraction and the world champion," said Jones. "Manny defending his title against Joshua Clottey is not just a great event, it's a great fight, and one we can showcase to the fullest in Cowboys Stadium. We're going to promote this like it was the Super Bowl."

The $1.2 billion domed stadium seats 80,000, but is expandable enough so that it can hold up to 111,000. The stadium also has a retractable ceiling that protects against rain.

In addition, the stadium boasts over 3,000 Sony LCD displays throughout the luxury suites, concourses, concession areas and more, allowing fans the ability to watch the action beyond just the field.

All, if not most, of the displays will be operating on fight night, Jones said.

"The technical aspect is going to be an amazing thing, because I built the stadium like a stage. So we have such flexibility that we can consider our coverage in many different ways. We have such flexibility from the sidelines in creating the proximity to the fighters because of what we have here," said Jones. "We have three million square feet in this building, but if you were here, you would be impressed by how intimate we can make these areas of the stadium relative to the field.

"We're going to be able to have, I think, the sort of intimacy and proximity to these fighters from a technical and perceived relationship, because of the way we've got all of our screens located to present the fighters that alone will create a first, in my mind, for boxing and the people who are accustomed to watching it."

Jones is particularly proud of the stadium's major feature, a monstrous high-definition screen known as "Jerry-Tron," which is believed to be the largest in the world.

"We think that we have a chance with our huge center-hung screen, to drop that down if we want to within 25 feet of the fighters," said Jones.

"And that means that every bead of sweat and every movement that goes on in that competition is going to be reflected to the people who are in this venue," said Jones. "I think that's going to be an unparalleled experience for the people here -- as well as for myself -- as we're watching two of the greatest fighters of their caliber."

Arum and duBoef spent Saturday night in Jones' luxurious box suite watching his Cowboys throttle their NFL rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, 34-14 in a first-round playoff game.

"It's not an arena, and it's not a stadium. It's like a city of energy, and it's unbelievable. It's hard to project anything, in that a fight, and a football game are so different. But it's about the overall energy of that facility, and the frenzy of the people that were there to be involved in the experience," said duBoef.

"It's all about the experience. And I think that this event is going to be a lot bigger than just Pacquiao and Clottey," said duBoef. "It's going to be about the boxing experience that people will feel when they come to this event because of this arena and this small city."

All of the while, duBoef and Arum were schmoozing with such notables as former president George Walker Bush and his wife Laura, former Texas Rangers' star pitcher Nolan Ryan and conservative talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh.

"Those [LCD] screens are going to be very, very prominent in this event -- as prominent as Manny Pacquiao," said Arum, who was invited to go down onto the field prior to the game, and said that he believes that he has convinced Bush -- a fan of Pacquiao's -- to attend the fight.

"The crowd is unbelievable. This is going to be incredible. This stadium, I'm telling you, with this fight, we're going to pack this place," Arum told FanHouse on Saturday night from the stadium. "I'm definitely going to sign for it tomorrow and finalize the deal tomorrow."

The fighters already have agreed to the deal in principle, which, "for all intent and purposes, it's a done deal," said Pacquiao's adviser, Michael Koncz.

Clottey is expected to fly back from Ghana to New York on Monday or early Tuesday. Pacquiao is expected to be in Los Angeles to begin preparing for the fight at the nearby Wild Card Boxing Club of his trainer, Freddie Roach, in Hollywood by Jan. 17.

Arum plans to hold a press conference to announce the fight on Jan. 18 at the Dallas Stadium, followed by another on Jan. 19 in New York.

"And on Jan. 18, all of the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders are going to be there," said Arum. "This fight is going to be absolutely huge."

In the meantime, Jones said that he will spend the next few weeks watching his Cowboys take a run at the Super Bowl -- they play the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 17 -- while also promoting Pacquiao-Clottey.

"If I may arm-wave with you a minute, we have such visibility in the NFL -- in my opinion, the Cowboys are the No. 1 team in the NFL when it comes to visibility -- that kind of interest going on as we build up to March is really going to be a large impact in terms of people's interest in this fight," said Jones.

"Not taking away one iota from the caliber of the drawing power of Pacquiao and Clottey and the event, but the venue itself is going to create a lot of interest, and we're not going to allow that to be accidental, either," said Jones. "I want to spend a lot of our organization's energy in making sure that the fight fans and the sports fans in general transcend some interest not only from the individual fighters and boxing fans, but to the general sports fan."

Jones told FanHouse that hosting a fight between the 31-year-old Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts) and the 32-year-old Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs), who now resides in the Bronx, "is the fruition of a longtime dream" of hosting a boxing event at his venue.

"Boxing has always been on the forefront of my thoughts in building this stadium. In fact, there was a part of me that almost named the stadium 'Vaqueros de Dallas,' which is 'The Dallas Cowboys' in Spanish," said Jones.
"Because of the interest among our Hispanic fan base in Texas, and in general our great Hispanic following for the Cowboys and our proximity to Mexico, I've always been aware of their great love for boxing and the fights. There is a lot of promise with the Spanish market, and the future that we have relative to the interest in boxing and that fan base."

Pacquiao-Clottey will replace a previously scheduled blockbuster fight between Pacquiao and 32-year-old Floyd Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) that was proposed for March 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which reached a negotiations impasse over how the fighters would be drug-tested.

Jones had bid $25 million to host Mayweather-Pacquiao, but lost out to the MGM. Jones said that he saw Arum's returning to him for Pacquiao-Clottey as a sign of appreciation and loyalty.

"I'm glad that he came back to us. Bob and I have several mutual friends, and I know that in their communication with Bob, he knows how much I value that in my business thinking," said Jones.

"And that can only happen and be demonstrated when it's a tight, challenging thing to do," said Jones. "And Bob's shown me that when it's tight, or when it's important, he shown me that side of him -- which is the loyalty -- that preceded him as part of his reputation among our mutual friends."
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