Much is being made about the site of the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander junior welterweight fight on Jan. 29, the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., which is about 25 miles from Detroit.
Alexander is a big draw in his native St. Louis and Bradley is from Southern California. The promotion landed in Detroit because the fighters wanted a neutral site and the owner of the stadium paid a hefty site fee, reportedly $600,000.
Yes, it was a strange choice. Pontiac is in the center of one of the most economically depressed areas in the country. Thus, it’s no surprise that ticket sales reportedly have been pathetically slow.
And then there’s the stadium itself. The 80,000-seat former home of the Detroit Lions, which in the mid-‘70s cost $55.7 million to construct, recently sold for an astonishing $583,000. Talk about plummeting real estate prices.
My reaction? Who the hell cares.
A few thousand people from the Detroit area, once a hotbed of boxing, will be fortunate enough to see Bradley-Alexander in person. The rest of us are lucky we have the opportunity to see it on HBO.
How often these days do we get to see two undefeated young American fighters with this kind of talent fight one another? Almost never.
We convinced ourselves that the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley fight last year was the real deal but we learned quickly that we had fooled ourselves because we wanted it so badly.
I’m not saying that Bradley-Alexander is Pacquiao-Mayweather or even Klitschko-Haye, two fights that would capture the imagination of the world. It isn’t even a huge event or it would be on pay-per-view TV and not on premium cable. Bradley and Alexander are still developing as attractions.
So what is it? Just about the best boxing can offer, the kind of fight we should be seeing all the time but don’t, the kind of fight that made us boxing fans in the first place.
And no one who watches it on the television is going to care that it’s taking place at the Silverdome or how many people are at ringside. The camera will be focused on the ring and rings are virtually the same everywhere.
Co-promoters Gary Shaw and Don King both tried to spin the decision to stage the fight in Pontiac as some sort of helping hand during rough times. Of course, that’s garbage. Shaw and King aren’t in the charity business.
They also tried to focus on the matchup itself as a way of dealing with the criticism over the site, which made sense.
“I put on the greatest fight of the decade, (Diego) Corrales and (Jose Luis) Castillo,” Shaw said on a conference call Tuesday. “And we didn’t sell 2,000 tickets. You never heard anyone say that the fight wasn’t extraordinary yet there weren’t 2,000 people in that arena.
“You’re seeing two great American fighters.”
Which is really all that matters.