Skip to Content

City Fights For El Paso’s Reputation; Agrees To Sponsor Chavez Jr.-Lee Boxing Match At Sun Bowl

The World Middleweight Championship boxing match between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee boxing back on for June 16 at the Sun Bowl Stadium.

Tickets are expected to go on sale Saturday.

El Paso City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday morning to accept the terms of a sponsorship agreement with Top Rank Boxing that would ensure the boxing match would take place in El Paso.

Boxing promoter Lester Bedford, who came before council at the beginning of the meeting, said the deal would bring an unimaginable amount of exposure to the city of El Paso. Initial reports from the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated as many as 20,000 spectators would show up for the event but Bedford said he would expect 30,000 to 40,000 people.

The contract has not been signed, or even drafted for that matter, but the council also approved terms for the city manager to sign the contract once it’s drafted. The terms include a $350,000 sponsorship and a $150,000 event expense support fee, totaling half a million dollars in expenses for the city. If money raised at the gate exceeds $2 million the city would earn a portion of the money from the gate above that mark.

Additionally, the City retains the right to seek subordinate sponsorships to offset the City’s investment.

Economic impact associated with the boxing match is over $4.5 million and approximately 400 persons associated with the event production will travel to El Paso, spending money on airfare, hotels, food, entertainment, rental cars, etc., according to the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The event will be televised to a worldwide audience of over 170 foreign countries, will be available to over one billion homes, and live in Mexico on TV Azteca, with an estimated audience of 20 million. In the United States, the fight will be televised live on HBO and will be rebroadcast three to four times, with an estimated US viewership of over four million. Chavez Jr.’s last two bouts have been the two highest rated boxing events on HBO in the last five years and his last bout was seen by over 1.8 million HBO viewers.

Mayor John Cook said the decision made by the council wasn’t about boxing, but much more.

“This was not about a fight, unless that fight was about our reputation,” said Cook, referring to the decision by the University of Texas System chancellor to cancel the fight last week due to security concerns.

City Rep. Carl Robinson took matters one step further and referred to Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa as a “knucklehead” for not allowing the fight initially. Late last week Cigarroa reversed his decision and said the fight could happen at the Sun Bowl if certain conditions, including a ban on alcohol, were met.

Top Rank Boxing’s Bob Arum was not on-hand for today’s meeting but Bedford said he is expected to come to El Paso on Wednesday to personally thank those who fought to keep the fight on the border.

“I’ve never been a part of a fight that people were so passionate about,” said Bedford moments after the vote.

He added that the decision to continue to pursue El Paso as an event venue was made following a news conference by the city leaders last week. Bedford said other cities had begun to line up, but the passion shown made him feel El Paso was the only city that should host the fight.

Late last week, Cigarroa released a statement with his conditions for having the fight at the Sun Bowl. The conditions are:

-A letter of Assurance from the Chief of El Paso Police, the Chief of the El Paso Sheriff’s Office, the El Paso Director of the FBI and the El Paso Director of the DEA that states any increased risk indicators related to this boxing match can be mitigated to a routine level, assuring that this event can occur at the Sun Bowl;

-No beverages containing alcohol will be sold or served at this event nor are alcoholic beverages allowed to be brought onto University Property;

-Any costs for security over and above the normal security measures UTEP would take for such an event will not be encumbered by the University of Texas at El Paso or The University of Texas System;

-Prior to signature, the contract must be reviewed by the UT System Office of General Counsel and the UT System Office of Risk Management and shall conform with Regents’ Rules and Regulations;

-A security plan developed by the UT El Paso Chief of Police to be reviewed and affirmed by Director Michael Heidingsfield;

-A letter to the UTEP community from President Diana Natalicio apprising them of the date and time of the event and providing them assurances that law enforcement agencies have addressed any security concerns resulting from such a boxing match. Furthermore, students and non-essential personnel should feel free to leave the University premises while the event is ongoing.

Alcohol is not sold at UTEP football games but is sold during the Hyundai Sun Bowl and at some other events at the Sun Bowl stadium depending on approval. According to a UTEP Police log, only one incident was reported during the boxing matches at the Don Haskins Center on April 21 – an iPad was stolen from a TV production room.

ESPN Friday Night Fights took place at the University of Texas at Austin Frank Erwin Center last Friday night and alcohol was sold at the arena.

On April 26, Cigarroa and UT System Director of Police Michael Heidingsfield met via videoconference call with El Paso representatives of the FBI, DEA, ICE, Customs and Border Patrol, and local law enforcement officials to present the UT System’s Risk Assessment related to the boxing match at the Sun Bowl.

The purpose of the videoconference also was to receive the risk assessments of the invited law enforcement agencies, according to Cigarroa’s news release. There was consensus with Heidingsfield’s assessment that this specific boxing match should not be considered a routine special event at the Sun Bowl and there was also consensus that the increased risk indicators for such an event could be mitigated, according to Cigarroa.

“The thorough and deliberative discussion that ensued during the video conference, coupled with the fact that the El Paso Chief of Police, DEA, FBI and Sheriff’s office addressed my concerns regarding safety by affirming that those concerns can be mitigated to a high confidence level,” Cigarroa said in a statement. “This led to my decision to permit UT El Paso President Diana Natalicio to enter into negotiations for UTEP to contract with Top Rank, Inc., for the Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Andy Lee fight, contingent upon several conditions. Our universities and health science centers are public institutions and hundreds of thousands of members of the general public visit these institutions every year. One of the most important responsibilities I have in my role as Chancellor of The University of Texas System is the safety of our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.”

El Paso’s FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark A. Morgan said last Wednesday that there is no known credible, vetted or specific threat to the fight at the Sun Bowl. Morgan, along with El Paso’s mayor and city manager and other local leaders, spoke at a news conference Wednesday in an effort to try and keep the boxing match in El Paso.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo



KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content