Tonight's HBO main event between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee at the Sun Bowl in El Paso has fallen short of early hopes for ticket sales, but promoters and organizers are hoping for good walk-up business this evening.
The El Paso Times reports that 13,000 tickets have been sold for the fight, which isn't bad, but they set up the stadium to hold 35,000 for the show.
[P]romoters and officials remain optimistic the city will be portrayed well. They called El Paso a walk-up market.
Most of the best seats at the Sun Bowl, including the ringside sections, are sold out. "I'm happy with the number," said Mayor John Cook, who will sing the national anthem tonight.
"El Paso kind of likes to do things last minute. I think we can get 20,000."
Mayor Cook may be happy with the number, but you have to figure that Top Rank must be a bit disappointed by this, especially after they fought so hard just to keep the fight at the Sun Bowl.
Chavez (45-0-1, 31 KO) drawing this many fight fans in El Paso isn't bad, though, and I'm not trying to spin that. 35K was always a serious stretch, especially given that Lee (28-1, 20 KO) isn't a big name in Texas. If they do get to that 20K, then I'd guess it's a success. If they don't, I'm not sure how it is.
The ban on alcohol is thought by some I've spoken to to be at least slightly to "blame" for ticket sales being lower than they could be, but no one really had a choice with that after the UT System cracked down on the fight.
But either way, HBO will have the fight live, and we'll be here with round-by-round coverage tonight. The fight will follow the Pacquiao vs Bradley replay, which starts around 10 p.m. EDT, so figure on 11 p.m. EDT for Chavez vs Lee.