This bout is going to break all PPV records no matter where it ends up and, when all is said and done, boxing is going to thrive or suffer based on whether the bout itself lives up to expectations, not on whether or not it was held in a really big ol' stadium.
That said, there's no question the sport's domestic profile needs a jump-start. And even if you find the Cowboys brand contemptible, you have to admit Jones' $1.2 billion pleasure palace could provide the "Super Bowl-type stage" that HBO Sports president
The NFL is America's most popular sports league by far and the Cowboys, despite their latter-day ineptitude, remain one of football's hallmark franchises. "You build brands with brands," remarked Jones during one of last week's stump speeches. "When you have an association with successful brands like the Cowboys and the NFL, it lifts all boats." Make no mistake: Jones needs Pacquiao-Mayweather more than Pacquiao-Mayweather needs Cowboys Stadium. But there aren't many fights that could sell out a football stadium in today's economy -- and boxing should have done whatever it could to attract more attention to one of the sport's most anticipated events in years.
Pavlik's 2009 will be remembered less for two title defenses in the ring -- against Espino and mandatory challenger
Should he get past Williams, I'd love to see Pavlik spend the next couple years cleaning out the middleweight division. Problem is, there's not much work to do. There's a unification fight with WBA titleholder Felix Sturm that may pique interest but not much else. It's no wonder Pavlik has designs on a climb to 168, one of the most talent-rich divisions in the sport. But the last time Pavlik went up, Hopkins derailed his career. I'd like to see Pavlik reestablish himself at 160 before moving up to fight a Lucian Bute.
Back in 2001, before he turned pro, Valero was in a motorcyle accident that left him with a fractured skull that required surgery. As a result, in January 2004, as his career was starting to take off, Valero failed a prefight MRI in New York and was banned from fighting in the United States. Since then, while based in Japan, he won the WBA super featherweight title and defended it four times before moving up to lightweight. Cleared early this year to box in Texas, Valero stopped
Valero's promoter, Bob Arum, has stated that the visa problems are being resolved and that the Nevada commission will soon clear Valero to fight. Arum wants him to appear on the Pacquiao-Mayweather undercard on March 13. Another spectacular KO on that stage -- the likely opponent is WBC interim champion Antonio Demarco of Mexico -- could put Valero squarely in the spotlight and set him up for some big paydays against such opponents as
But there's a duality to Valero (not unlike Maradona) that's just as fascinating as the Venezuelan's 100-percent knockout record: Blessed with a left hand that could stop a Mack Truck, Valero remains susceptible to a self-destructive streak that's compromised his ability to fight in the United States. If Valero can resolve his visa problems in time to land a fight on the Pacquiao-Mayweather undercard in March, the longtime YouTube curiosity may crack the pound-for-pound charts by year's end.
Hold the sugar plums. My pugilistic wish list for 2010 is as follows:
• Shane Mosley against whoever wins the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Mosley is never in a bad fight, and he's got all the tools to give either man a real battle. Mosley-Mayweather, in particular has been a wish of many Christmases past.
• Kelly Pavlik vs. Paul Williams. This was one I was looking forward to last year. Pavlik looks like he's still the same rugged and dangerous brawler that figured to give Williams a real challenge. And Williams, after his thrilling win over
• Bernard Hopkins vs.