Pacquiao, Clottey are looking forward to rumbling at Cowboys Stadium on March 13
Guys wearing jeans and cowboy hats ran through dry ice and past the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, sparklers firing from the tips of the flagpoles they carried.
ARLINGTON, Texas - Guys wearing jeans and cowboy hats ran through dry ice and past the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, sparklers firing from the tips of the flagpoles they carried.
Michael Buffer gave his signature introduction, the music blared, the highlights rolled and, finally - walking through the same tunnel the Cowboys use to enter and exit their home turf - out came boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao.
No, this wasn't a test run for Pacquiao's March 13 welterweight fight against Joshua Clottey in the US$1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium.
This was merely the news conference kicking off the hype for a bout being billed as "The Event."
"This is going to be the Super Bowl of boxing," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer.
Not really. That would've been the hoped-for matchup between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., which was scuttled after Mayweather outlined a drug testing plan Pacquiao wouldn't accept.
Had that fight come together, it would have been in Las Vegas. So as far as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is concerned, things worked out just fine.
"It did," Jones said, smiling. "This gave us an opening. We were very aggressive. We were pretty quick to make a deal."
Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum was smitten by the stadium during negotiations for a possible Pacquaio-Mayweather fight. Arum returned for a Cowboys playoff game, sitting near former President George W. Bush in Jones' box.
Arum has promoted fights at the Astrodome and at Yankee Stadium. He predicts Cowboys Stadium "will have a big role in boxing for years to come."
"I have never, ever seen anything like it," Arum said. "There is nothing in the world like this place. It just blows you away."
The stadium is hosting the NBA All-Star Game next month and will host the Super Bowl next year. A Final Four is on the way, as is a Notre Dame football game. It's also in the running as a World Cup soccer site, should that event come to the United States.
Still, for all that it has going for it, the building is right off an interstate highway in a suburb midway between Dallas and Fort Worth. There's a nearby amusement park and some strip centres, none of which will ever be confused with the Las Vegas Strip.
But money talks and Jones believes he can make it financially worthwhile for fighters. His goal is to host up to four or five fights a year, "once we establish that we are the place to fight and have the kind of stature that we want to have." He used Madison Square Garden as a comparison.
For this fight, the Cowboys are planning to sell around 40,000 seats, offering tickets on all but the highest decks.
There's no decision yet on whether they will have the standing-room only tickets that have been so popular for other events since the stadium opened last summer. Considering the HBO pay-per-view will cost US$49.95, it would be a heck of a deal to pay that much to watch on the stadium's enormous video boards, while also being in the building.
Jones vowed that fight night will be even splashier than the news conference.
"We're going to make this one of the most interesting fights to view that there's ever been," he said. "It'll have everything to do with the flexibility of this board right above the ring. We're going to have some fun with it."
The fight itself should be pretty good, too.
Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) is widely considered the best fighter, pound-for-pound, in the world. In November, he beat Miguel Cotto, who beat Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) last summer. However, that fight was a split decision that many felt should've gone to Clottey, a native of Ghana who lives in New York.
The boxers praised each other during Tuesday's event. They also were gushing over the facility and the glitzy news conference.
"I like the introduction," Pacquiao said. "I'm surprised. I feel like I'm a ... football player!"
Soon enough, he looked like one.
Jones presented Pacquiao with a No. 3 jersey featuring his name on the back. Clottey received a No. 13 jersey.
The significance? It's shorthand for the date of the bout: 3-13.
Jones already has gotten ticket requests from former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells. Jones and Barry Switzer have gone to fights together, so he'll probably ask for a seat, too.
Parcells, though, is the biggest fight fan of the bunch. In fact, Jones once looked into investing in Pacquiao's career.
"Bill really encouraged me to meet with the guy who had Pacquiao," Jones said. "I had him come in and sit down and talk about backing Pacquiao. You could see his potential at that time."