Castillo - Reyes: Empty Seats Should Not Be

04.02.06 - By Joseph Carlo Russo: After viewing Showtime’s February 4th Championship Sparring Edition between Jose Luis Castillo and Rolando Reyes, I was quite perturbed by something other than the lackluster performances displayed by both fighters. I was perturbed by something that potentially lead and created for the lackluster performances that were exhibited that night.

I could not shift my attention off of the stands throughout the entire card. Every 5 minutes or so, I would observe the stands and its bright orange color as there were no fans to hide the bright orange seats. Indeed, it was an empty Don Haskins center in El Paso. From my experience with fights and ticket prices, I assume the cheapest seat in the house was no less than $50, a disgraceful amount for any tune up fight especially one where a promoter should know that the tickets were not going to sell rampidly.

Had this fight been in Mexico with tickets at 15 to 20 to 30 dollars for the cheap seats, there probably would have been at least 20-25 thousand strong on hand to see the number 8 pound for pound fighter and arguable number one lightweight in the world. With 20,000 on hand in Castillo’s native Mexico, perhaps he’d have felt compelled to put on a show and give back to the Mexican fans that are so loyal and often provide the backbone of the sport. Or perhaps Reyes would have felt compelled to go for broke in front of his paesanos or at least pretend like it was his chance of a lifetime.

I am convinced that the gym-like setting at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso Texas foreshadowed a gym-like sparring session on February 4th. There is no reason seats should not be filled at fights. Especially, one featuring a fighter of Castillo’s caliber. If the tickets are not sold and are clearly not moving three weeks before a fight, the prices should be halved without a doubt. As a fan I feel more compelled to watch a fight when the venue is full, and I am sure that a fighter feels more compelled to fight when a venue is full. And, as far as the notoriously greedy promoters, I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to make the extra buck and sell out all the tickets while amassing more exposure for their product, the fighter.

In addition, fights should be in fighters’ hometowns more often just on the basis that people show up, which apparently isn’t too common in boxing so is great for the sport when it happens. When Cory Spinks defended his welterweight crown against Zab Judah for the second time, the fight was in Spinks’ hometown of St. Louis. We all know Cory isn’t the most exciting fighter, but something drew 20,000 fans out that night. Jeff Lacy fought Robin Reid near his hometown in Tampa, Florida before 20,000 fans while in his next fight in Lake Tahoe he fought for about 20 people and a handful of journalists, photographers, ushers, vendors, promoters, VIPs etc.

I’m not saying that fights must be in a boxer’s hometown. But, the venue should make sense. And, often times the hometown makes all the sense, especially when it’s a tuneup. Mormeck vs. Braithwaite in Worcester Massachusetts did not make sense. Manny Pacquiao tuning up against Fahsan 3Kbattery in the Philippines made a ton of sense. Mayweather vs. Mitchell in Portland did not make sense. Tarver vs. Jones in Florida made all the sense. Get my drift?

The cheapest ticket for Marco Antonio Barrera’s upcoming bout with Jesus Chavez is priced at $75, an outrageous robbery for someone other than Oscar DeLaHoya. There is also no logical reason that Antonio Margarito should be fighting on pay-per-view. It is instances as such, which made boxing an “other” sport on ESPN’s website along with bass fishing and bowling. Sometimes I ponder why boxing is drowning in the water when there are so many lifeboats available to transport it to safety. Hopefully, it can swim well because right now it’s treading in deep water.

Article posted on 05.02.2006

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