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Pacquiao could put Cowboys Stadium on boxing's map

DALLAS (AP) — Take the best fighter going and put him in the fanciest new stadium.

There's no telling what kind of bout it will produce.

But having Manny Pacquiao as the headliner for the first fight at the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium sure offers the kind of mystique promoters love.

"I have never had an experience where the venue has played such a paramount role in the promotion," said Bob Arum, who is putting on the fight along with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "It's helped us sell the tickets, helped us get the publicity. ... Whatever works."

About 41,000 tickets have been sold for the bout between Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey on Saturday night. A sellout would be around 45,000 — which isn't even half the capacity of this facility, the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

The ring will be on the star logo at the 50-yard line. The world's largest high-definition television screen will loom above, giving people in the worst seats a close-up look at every bead of sweat and drip of blood.

"This is going to be big time," Jones said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. "I'm going to over-deliver what it means to (fans) to be involved in this stadium. ... That does enhance the competition, help the sport. You're not going to need any incentive to get these fighters to compete."

Having already hosted the NBA All-Star game, and with the Super Bowl coming in February, Jones wants Cowboys Stadium to be a prime destination for boxing, too.

That's why it was so important for him to get Pacquiao for the debut.

"You don't want to deal with anything but the top," Jones said. "This says everything to have Manny Pacquiao and this competition. It says everything I want."

Kelly Pavlik, Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. are among the boxers Arum is bringing in for a ringside view. He expects them to go away eager to become the next headliners here.

Jones, meanwhile, hopes to pack the high-dollar seats with his running buddies — all sorts of current and former Cowboys greats, including former coach Jimmy Johnson.

"It's no accident there are going to be many football players here," Jones said. "There is a crossover of interest. That really excites me. I'm not trying to be presumptuous but we all know how popular the NFL is right now. That raises all boats. That's a big thing to me."

If Cowboys Stadium can land two or three big fights per year, as Jones hopes, that would put him in competition with Las Vegas.

But Jones again invoked the "rising tide" notion, believing that the popularity of fights at his building will generate "more interest and more visibility for fighting."

Arum agrees.

"I love Las Vegas, I live in Las Vegas," he said. "But the tickets are limited by the size of the arena and they generally go to the high-rolling casino customers. Here, the sales pitch is about the public. ... You cannot be a major sport if all your big events are in one city where people have to come from all over to attend the event. The Super Bowl wouldn't be as big, in my opinion, if it had to be held in the same city every year."

As for planning the next fight here, stay tuned.

"We want to get this one over first," Arum said. "Once we get this one over ... we'll sit down and plot the future."