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No Cutting De La Hoya Off at El Paso

Boxing: They can't get enough of WBC champion in Texas, where more than 50,000 will watch him fight Charpentier.


As a result, the new strategy seems to be to hold major fights at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, thus keeping the unruly fight fans away from the casinos. That was the strategy for last fall's Holyfield-Michael Moorer fight, and the Thomas & Mack Center will again be used in September when De La Hoya, should he beat Charpentier as expected, faces Julio Cesar Chavez, who must also first win a tuneup fight.

So don't think Las Vegas, where the site fees are huge and the expensive seats can be sold, is going out of the boxing business.

"You would still hold the real biggies in Las Vegas," Arum said. "But everything else can be held in places like this. Oscar has blown this town away. It is as simple as that. You can't charge $1,000 a seat here like you could in Las Vegas. But you make up for that by selling so many more seats [priced from $350 down to $25.]. Holding a fight here like this also helps revive boxing and creates more interest in Oscar for future pay-per-view shows."

But none of this would be possible were it not for someone like De La Hoya, who can create excitement in a place like El Paso by merely showing up.

"This is great for boxing," said Rich Rose, the former president of sports operations for Caesars Palace and now a consultant for Arum's Top Rank organization. "Boxing needs a stage.

"Just like the World Series is more than just a baseball game and Wimbledon is more than just a tennis tournament, this is going to be more than just a boxing match.

"The fact that Oscar can attract all these women is great. I don't know any other athlete who can do this. These crowds are the kind you see with a Brad Pitt or a Mick Jagger or even Frank Sinatra when he was king. Forget about boxing. This doesn't happen in any sport."

Prefight hype? In El Paso this week, it's pretty hard, even for boxing people, to exaggerate the excitement.

Just ask anyone at the Carolina Community Center on Wednesday night.


Fight at a Glance

* Who: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Patrick Charpentier.

* When: Saturday.

* Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso.

* TV: HBO, 7 PDT.

* At stake: De La Hoya's World Boxing Council welterweight title.

* Records: De La Hoya 27-0, 22 knockouts; Charpentier 27-4-1, 23 knockouts.

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