Jerry Jones, the owner and general manager of the newly-built Dallas Cowboys Stadium speaks which stages Saturday's fight between welterweights Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey.
Manny Pacquaio arrived at Cowboys Stadium in a bus covered with his own likeness, the seats filled with members of his entourage. There were 140 of them in all, and his small Jack Russell Terrier ‘Pacman’.
If Pacquiao is not saying ‘I’m the Greatest’ then the signs are there. Pacquiao wore a straw hat and a dark jacket for the final press conference, like a latter day pop star. He then changed into a red Adidas tracksuit, matching his entourage. Pacquiao has a fight on his hands, both in the ring and in his upcoming election for Congress in his homeland, the Philippines.
Pacquiao is facing Ghanaian Joshua Clottey on Saturday night in boxing's debut at the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium. A sellout crowd of 45,000 is expected, with the attendance possibly soaring if Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decides to sell standing-room-only tickets. The pay-per-view audience that promoter Bob Arum said is likely to top the hoped-for total of 700,000.
Arum insists that the fervour for Pacquiao reminds him of the days he promoted Muhammad Ali. “It’s the same love that people have for him, as they had for Ali. Except with Manny, that love is from his own nation. It reminds me of what we had when Ali was in his pomp. It’s the same thing. Pacquiao is blessed.”
“He has been so through so much in his life, but the best thing of all is that he has kept his humanity. Manny cares about people, and cares about his people. I look forward to introducing him as ‘Congressman’ in the future.”
"There's no stage big enough for Manny Pacquiao," added Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said. "He loves it, and I love it. He's going to perform for the crowd. He'll entertain all 45,000. He'll entertain everybody."
Clottey was given this opportunity against Pacquiao when the proposed megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. fell through. He's very appreciative for this opportunity and has nothing but nice things to say about Pacquiao. It's Roach who rankles him, from the predicted result to talk of a head butt being one of Clottey's best punches.
Clottey's prediction? "I'm predicting a win," he said, adding that he had not studied Pacquiao. "I know his style, I know the way he moves, the way he throws punches, so it doesn't matter. I study myself," he added. "I watch my own fights. I know what I have to do."
What he must do is overcome a fighter who has won world titles across seven weight divisions, who is fast becoming one of sport's living icons. It will have to be a special performance.
Author: Gareth A Davies