LAS VEGAS – Several hundred people jammed around a makeshift boxing ring near the lobby of the MGM Grand Garden around noon on Tuesday. Cheryl Dahl of Vernon, N.J., saw the commotion and decided to investigate.
Like so many in this gambling mecca, it cost her some money, though the smile creasing her face proved she didn't mind being taken. And as so often is the case, she had a plan to win her money back.
The crowd had gathered for the official arrival ceremony of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., who will fight in the Grand Garden on Saturday for a super welterweight title in what could be the largest-grossing bout in history.
Mayweather arrived first, a little after 11:30, to a polite but hardly thunderous welcome. As he walked toward the ring, where a phalanx of cameras awaited him, Mayweather worked the line like a political candidate.
Almost by impulse, Dahl pulled out a $100 bill and a pen and thrust it in Mayweather's face. Mayweather, beaming, dutifully signed and handed it back.
"I'm going to get Oscar to sign it and then I'm going to make my husband buy it back from me," Dahl said, grinning.
A few minutes later, De La Hoya worked the line, receiving a much louder ovation. The crowd appeared to have swelled to around 750, compared to the 500 who were there for Mayweather's arrival.
As a mariachi band played, many in the crowd began to chant his name and Dahl again moved into position.
De La Hoya signed a few dollar bills along the way and didn't seem to notice when Dahl shoved her $100 bill toward him. He signed it, too, and she gleefully held it aloft for all to see.
Later, she made a confession: She had never heard of Mayweather and didn't realize he was a boxer.
"I'm sure my husband knows him, though," she said.
Mayweather clearly was pleased by the turnout and took the chance to do a little business.
"Make sure you buy the pay per view," he said to one fan. "You'll see history. Make sure you buy the pay per view."