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El Paso Mayor Says Fight Was Worth It Despite Lackluster Attendance

Just like challenger Andy Lee had high hopes for defeating champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the City and promoters hoped for a big showing for the bout on Saturday at the Sun Bowl.

With 2:21 left in the seventh round all the bravado challenger Lee had shown before the fight was gone – as were hopes for a large crowd.

“I’d say in the 20,000-30,000 range,” boxing promoter Lester Bedford said last week. “That is where we’re projecting.”

Tickets sales were lackluster with just over 13,000 attending in the 51,000-capacity Sun Bowl.

Bad weather the day before the match has shouldered some of the blame.

“Also, I think the alcohol sales, or the prohibition of alcohol sales, impacted the attendance too,” Mayor John Cook said.

No beer or liquor was sold at Saturday’s fight as a condition of the fight being allowed at the Sun Bowl by UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

But that information was known when the City chipped in $500,000 to ensure the fight would happen at the Sun Bowl.

With a crowd of 13,467 people that’s the equivalent to the City paying $37.13 per attendee.

“Well, you have to look at the other side of the coin,” Cook said when asked if El Paso got what it paid for. “What would have happened if we didn’t step up to the plate?”

In the days after the fight was first pulled from the Sun Bowl San Antonio and Houston were mentioned as cities that would have been in the running to pick up the fight.

Instead, City officials and local political leaders banded together and fought to keep the fight in El Paso and at the Sun Bowl.

And as part of the $500,000 deal, they essentially received ads within HBO’s broadcast of the fight.

Famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer said, “Sponsored by the City of El Paso, Texas, the safest city in America” during the bout that was televised to millions around the world.

Cook said it was worth millions in terms of the reputation of El Paso because the city continues to fight a negative perception. Cook also said he was disheartened that the chancellor didn’t attend the boxing match to see the security measures that were undertaken.

Related Links:

Report: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Refused To Take Urine Test Before El Paso Fight

ABC-7 Coverage Of Chavez Jr.-Lee Boxing Match

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