ARLINGTON – Love bloomed inside Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday afternoon as Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey exchanged verbal bouquets three days before they are scheduled to trade punches in their welterweight title bout.
Instead of trying to sell tickets and boost pay-per-view sales with trash talk, Pacquiao and Clottey were nothing but complimentary of each other at the final news conference before Saturday night's fight.
"I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for the opportunity he has given me," said Clottey, the challenger from Ghana who went on to declare, "I really like him."
Countered Pacquiao, the pride of the Philippines: "Joshua Clottey is a nice person. ...We will try our best to give people a good fight and make them happy."
And on and on the fighters went for most of the hourlong news conference held on a Cowboys Stadium concourse. Elementary school class elections produce more venom.
Promoter Bob Arum, who brought the fight to Jerry Jones' stadium, gave his blessing to the serene scene.
"Athletes that respect each other makes the sport," Arum said. "I say it's the trash-talking guys that kill this sport."
Ticket sales surpass 40,000: About 42,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday night's fight, which is scheduled to include at least eight bouts on the undercard. With the upper deck already curtained off, plans had been to sell 45,000 tickets. But if demand exceeds seats, standing-room party passes may be sold on the day of the fights. ...Every bout on the undercard features at least one Hispanic fighter. ... Plans are in the works to have Cowboys Stadium host its second fight card during the home team's bye week during the 2010 NFL season. Arum said the card could include undefeated middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., son of Mexico's most iconic boxer, and Kelly Pavlik, whose only loss has been to Bernard Hopkins.
Jones has rival for his lateness: Jerry Jones, who sat on the dais alongside Pacquiao, is notoriously known for habitual tardiness for Cowboys news conferences. But his reputation for being late is nothing compared with that of Pacquiao, who arrived almost 45 minutes late Wednesday, way later than the prompt Jones, who has been giddy throughout fight week. ... Perhaps Jones has been smiling because of the celebrity his stadium has gotten. Arum introduced the fighters as "the pride of Africa" and "the pride of Asia" meeting in "America's best stadium."