As much good as you can say about the win for Manny Pacquiao last night, there are no doubt some frowns on the business side of things coming out of the performance, at least for now. We'll see how pay-per-view figures stack up, but ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reported last night that the attendance at Cowboys Stadium was a "mere" 41,734 -- less than what Pacquiao did against the far lesser-known Joshua Clottey in March at the same building, and much, much less than the 70,000 they were talking up before this fight.
I don't recall ESPN panning the audience in wide view last night, and that might be why. Just speculating, but we know how Bob Arum reacts to disappointing business. We saw it when the 2009 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton fell dramatically short of his PPV buy prediction, as Arum was said to have tried to issue something of a gag order to HBO and co-promoters of the fight at Golden Boy Promotions, both parties who were happy with the number that Pacquiao-Hatton did.
41,000 is a very big crowd, but this might say something, particularly about Antonio Margarito and the matchup in general. We got a good fight last night, but maybe this replacement for Floyd Mayweather Jr. just wasn't up to snuff for most fans, and maybe Margarito doesn't have the mass backing that they thought he still had from the Mexican audience. This fight went to Texas because they thought they could do a huge gate by bringing in that audience and the Pacquiao fans for one big event. Doesn't look like that happened.
Or maybe there's simply too much by way of alternative entertainment in November. Even with the Cowboys sucking, the NFL is still the ticket in Dallas, plus those fans just got done with the Rangers in the World Series, college football is heating up, and the NBA and NHL are in swing. Compare that to March, which has no NFL, the NBA and NHL are in a "dull" part of their regular seasons, MLB is in Florida and Arizona, and the only real competition is March Madness.
But whatever the reason, this is not what they were hoping to see, obviously. I hope this doesn't deter them from doing future events, but there does come a time when, unless Jerry Jones is throwing on tons of money (and that will have its limit), returns can diminish even with very big crowds to the point that it's not worth it to go to Dallas when you can make a lot more money going to Vegas and fighting in front of 15,000 high-priced tickets.