EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jerry Jones has no inside information. He says he isn’t privy to any discussions, however serious they may or may not be, between the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather on the possibility of their long-awaited fight occurring in 2015.
Jones, standing inside the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room here late Sunday night, was only certain about two things:
As a boxing fan, he wants the bout made. And as a businessman, he believes a mega-fight like that demands a grand stage on which to shine, and nothing will do the trick like his own AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
If the fight is made, Jones promised an aggressive bid that would push the benefits of fighting in front of more than 100,000 fans, in a big media market, on the 50-yard line of what has become in just a little more than five years America’s premier sports venue – home to a Super Bowl, a Final Four and the upcoming inaugural college football title game, among other things.
Jones wants the fight at his place and he promised to take on what would be big money bids from casino interests in Las Vegas and perhaps Macau to get it.
“But I don’t want the headlines to say, ‘Jones says he’s got more than Vegas has got if we got into a throw-down,’” Jones told Yahoo Sports before breaking into a laugh. “I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but I don’t want anything like that.
“I do know there is no question that we can have the largest gate in boxing.”
Mayweather (47-0) and Pacquiao (57-5-2) have been the two best boxers and two biggest commercial draws in the sport for years. They’ve repeatedly negotiated to stage a fight that could produce some $250 million in revenue, mostly from pay-per-view buys, only to have things fall apart for myriad reasons and rivalries.
As both fighters age (Pacquiao is 35; Mayweather 37) a now-or-never vibe has taken over. Neither is quite as good as he was, even as both roll through overmatched also-rans.
Promoter Bob Arum, who is aligned with Pacquiao, repeatedly floated the idea recently that the two sides were getting closer in talks arranged via CBS Corporation president/CEO and entertainment powerhouse Les Moonves.
What that produces is anyone’s guess. It’s been close before only to end bitterly. There is, if nothing else, increased chatter from the Pacquiao camp, including trying to shame Mayweather into the fight.
Jones can only hope that the possibility of staging the fight at AT&T Stadium can increase the appeal for both sides. It’s a different option to consider than the traditional route.
Vegas casinos can bid high for the right to stage the fight, underwriting some ticket costs with the belief they will win the money back from high rollers at gaming tables and the sports books. There is also the immense promotional benefit of staging such an event at a Vegas casino.
The majority of major fights take place at the MGM Grand, where the Grand Garden Arena has a capacity of about 16,000 for boxing. Mayweather, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native but longtime Las Vegas resident, has fought exclusively there since 2006.
The MGM could also construct a temporary outside facility in a parking lot of one of its properties that could seat 30,000-plus in an effort to meet ticket demand.
Neither would compare to the spectacle of AT&T, however, which is what Jones is counting on to off-set a potentially higher bid from Vegas.
Pacquiao fought twice at AT&T in 2013 to positive fan reviews, which give Jones confidence in the venue (and its big screen televisions) as well as the marketplace of Texas.
“We’re perfect for it because of numbers,” Jones said. “We’re a proven boxing venue. Our venue would really extend ourselves in every way imaginable, financially or otherwise.”
He believes the idea of taking the big fight out of Vegas and to Middle America, where football is played, would increase the appeal. A week of hype or planned fan and promotional events around the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex would help boost interest in the sport.
The state’s large Mexican and Mexican-American populations are a boon because boxing remains immensely popular in those markets, and even though this bout, between an American and a Filipino, lacks a Mexican fighter, it would be huge. The gate, with so many tickets bought and so many concessions sold, would surpass anything Vegas could offer.
Then there is the sheer spectacle of a six-figure crowd watching a fight. The visual alone might attract additional customers watching at home, Jones said.
“I think we can even add a few people on television,” Jones said. “We’re vain enough to think someone might want to watch it if it’s being staged at AT&T Stadium.”
Whatever comes from the negotiations, the owner and general manager of an 8-3 NFL team was more than happy to carve out a moment in a victorious Sunday night locker room to talk some boxing. That’s the power of Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Jones built his place to stage the biggest sporting and entertainment events in the world and here he believes is boxing’s chance to go mainstream and join the ranks.
“I feel on sound footing on how to bid it,” he said. “And I know we can give them the best venue. We’re the place to be.”
Mayweather-Pacquiao: Deep in the heart of Texas? Just one more reason to get the fight made.