By Joe Scalzo
Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, is seen on a large video screen before his WBO boxing welterweight title fight against Joshua Clottey, from Ghana, in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, March 13, 2010.
Could Kelly Pavlik’s next big middleweight title defense come in Big D?
If Top Rank chairman Bob Arum has his way, it could.
The Top Rank brass have had internal discussions about Pavlik headlining a fight card at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, later this year.
Top Rank boxer Manny Pacquiao defeated Joshua Clottey in front of more than 50,000 people on March 13 at Cowboys Stadium, a fight Pavlik attended with Martinez to drum up interest for their April 17 bout in Atlantic City.
If Pavlik beats Martinez, Arum said he will look to make a Pavlik fight in Arlington.
“[Cowboys owner] Jerry [Jones] was very impressed when he met Kelly, and he told me he’s looking forward to Kelly fighting a main event in Cowboys stadium,” said Arum. “When I mentioned it to Kelly, his eyes opened wide.”
Pavlik, who did not respond to an interview request for this story, does not have the same national following as Pacquiao, who is easily the biggest name in boxing.
Consequently, Arum would look to pair the Pavlik bout with either a co-main event or a strong undercard bout featuring a Hispanic star such as junior middleweight contender Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or welterweight contender Antonio Margarito.
“Kelly, on his own, couldn’t do 40,000 in Cowboys Stadium,” Arum said. “But north Texas has a huge Hispanic population.
“With a strong Hispanic fighter, he could do 40,000.”
Pavlik also would need a high-profile opponent, preferably one that could bring his own fan base. Arum said the fight could either be a super middleweight bout or a middleweight title defense, with Lucian Bute, Paul Williams and Ronald “Winky” Wright mentioned as possibilities.
Pavlik drew about 10,000 fans for his two fights with Jermain Taylor, which were the best-attended fights of his headlining career. Both those crowds were made up of about 90 percent Pavlik fans.
Cowboys Stadium holds 80,000 for NFL games. The NBA All-Star game drew 108,000 in February at the stadium.
“It’s so much better for the sport doing these fights in large stadiums,” said Arum. “It’s so much more innovative with the electronics and the video effects.
“And it elevates the sport to have boxing identified with professional football, which is the No. 1 sport in the country. Even thought it’s tangential, it’s very, very good for boxing.”
Pavlik likes to have at least three months between fights, which means his next bout could coincide with the Cowboys’ season.
That’s not a problem, Arum said.
“You could easily put a fight in during their bye week or when they’re on the road,” he said. “There’s plenty of time.”
One of the reasons why another Cowboys Stadium fight is so appealing to Arum is his budding friendship with Jones.
Both love the spotlight, both love big events and both love the NFL.
“But I’m still a Giant fan,” said Arum, a longtime Giants season ticket-holder. “I maintain my independence.”
Arum didn’t release ticket sales for the April 17 bout but said there are still plenty of good seats available.
Campbell native Chris Hazimihalis was added to the undercard — he made his pro debut in December on the undercard of the Pavlik-Miguel Espino bout — and the card will also feature super welterweight boxer Ronald Hearns, the son of former middleweight champion Thomas Hearns.
“We’ve got to get those Youngstown people to have a party in Atlantic City,” Arum said.