Advertisement
Advertisement

Chavez-Lee/Sun Bowl Controversy Rages On in El Paso

By Jim Vertuno, Juan Carlos Llorca

Angry El Paso leaders on Wednesday accused the University of Texas system chancellor of fostering a "climate of fear" by canceling a high-profile boxing event in a border city fighting to overcome assumptions it has been overrun by spillover violence from the drug war in Mexico.

City leaders were stunned when UT system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said Tuesday the University of Texas-El Paso's Sun Bowl stadium could not host a June 16 fight between WBC world middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., of Mexico and Andy Lee of Ireland. The UT system said Cigarroa made the decision based on a "higher than normal" risk assessment but released no details.

The move prompted a wave of angry responses from El Paso officials who insist their city is safe. Despite ranking among the safest cities in the nation in terms of violent crime, El Paso officials have long complained the city gets falsely portrayed as a war zone.

"It stems from this general climate of fear being created by some ... that the border is unsafe. This is the latest example of the kind of decisions that are going to do incalculable harm to border communities," said state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, an El Paso Democrat.

Rodriguez and others demanded to know the details behind Cigarroa's decision.

El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson and El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen insisted Cigarroa show them a risk assessment report for the fight, and any others conducted for major events that have been held on system property for the last five years.

Last weekend, UTEP's Don Haskins Center basketball arena hosted a Showtime boxing card, and the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas in Austin is hosting ESPN's Friday Night Fights this week.

The 51,500-seat Sun Bowl is home to the UTEP Miners football team and the annual Sun Bowl game. It also hosted a major fight in 1998 when more than 40,000 watched Oscar De La Hoya.

The UT system said "this decision should not be generalized to other events at UTEP or other UT institution facilities. If there was an elevated risk determination associated with any event hosted by the other 14 UT institutions, the same decision would have been made."

A UT system spokesman said he could not discuss the El Paso fight risk assessment and that Cigarroa was not immediately available for comment.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Katherine Cessinger said DPS was not involved in developing the risk assessment. Ramiro Cordero, a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol, said the agency has received no specific threats or intelligence indicating violence in El Paso related to the fight.

All of the state lawmakers who represent El Paso sent a letter to Cigarroa calling the decision "ill-informed, baseless and destructive" and urging him to reconsider.

Rodriguez said he spoke with Cigarroa on Tuesday and pressed him for details on the risk assessment, including whether law enforcement intelligence suggested the fight would be a dangerous event for the university and the city. Rodriguez said Cigarroa told him he had nothing specific.

"It is very difficult for me to accept," Rodriguez said, noting that former President Bill Clinton visited El Paso on Tuesday without incident. "You just don't make decisions based on 'higher than normal' risk without details."

Cigarroa informed UTEP officials of his decision one hour before a news conference to promote the fight. Bob Arum, president of boxing promotions company Top Rank, said he's ready to move the fight to San Antonio or Houston but promised El Paso officials to wait another day to see if they can't get Cigarroa to change his mind.

El Paso is a natural place to host a fight with a popular Mexican fighter like Chavez, Jr., Arum said.

"It's a hot boxing town," Arum said. "I'm totally befuddled. If there is a high security problem, tell us what it is."

Arum said fights in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand and Mandalay casino resorts require spectators to go through metal detectors.

Sending 50,000 people at the Sun Bowl through metal detectors would be inconvenient and expensive, but "it's doable," Arum said.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by SelectOne on 04-26-2012

[QUOTE=pelonxsoldier28;12044984]Wow!!!!! What violence or danger are they talking about? I've been stationed here in El Paso at Ft Bliss since 2005. It's so safe here it's boring! You can leave your front door open all night and not worry. It's…

Comment by flint on 04-26-2012

how the heck has america come to this.

Comment by pelonxsoldier28 on 04-26-2012

Wow!!!!! What violence or danger are they talking about? I've been stationed here in El Paso at Ft Bliss since 2005. It's so safe here it's boring! You can leave your front door open all night and not worry. It's…

Comment by Hitman932 on 04-26-2012

I agree the decision is ridiculous, but I don't mind. If the fight is moved to San Antonio I will go to it, was not going to make the drive to El Paso.

Comment by Russian Crushin on 04-25-2012

Rumor is the real reason is because the Sun Bowl cannot hold the enough fans that are expected to see the legend live

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (6)
Top Headlines Callum Smith His Washington To Scout Badou Jack-Lucian Bute Fury Just Wants To Be Left Alone To Enjoy a Chicken Sandwich Francisco Vargas Granted Temporary License, Must Submit To Additional Testing Vasyl Lomachenko: Nicholas Walters Kept Making Excuses Rances Barthelemy-Mickey Bey Tops PBC on Spike, June 3 Photos: Badou Jack, James DeGale, Bute, Medina Ready To Fight Photos: Manny Pacquiao Hits The Campaign Trail in Senate Bid News: Marquis Moore; Orlando Del Valle; Dashon Johnson Video: Jack-Bute, DeGale-Medina Make Weight For Battle All Fighters Make Weight For Showtime Double In D.C. Early Fight Results From Copenhagen, Denmark Khan: Beating Canelo Would Be Monumental For British Boxing DeGale: I Told Badou Jack 'You're Next, Green Belt is Coming To UK' Bellew vs. Makabu Title Clash Officially Unveiled Weights From London: Fury 231, Kassi 233 Carl Frampton Relinquishes IBF 122-Pound Crown Kovalev's Promoter Details How Chilemba/Russia Deal Came About Andre Dirrell 'Definitely' Would Go To England For DeGale Rematch Porter: Thurman Doesn't Work on The Inside, Smarter Fighter Wins Gaiyanghadaogym, Sithsamerchai Claim Wins In Thailand Frampton: Leo Santa Cruz's Style is Made For Me, 100% I'll Win Jeff Horn Targets WBO Title Showdown With Jessie Vargas Photos: Joshua, Haye, Groves, McGuigan Hit BT Sport Awards Golovkin's Promoter: If Kell Brook is Serious, We Can Discuss It Nacho Says 'Perfect Fight' Will Still See Khan Get Blasted By Canelo Video: Victor Ortiz vs. Andre Berto Final Press Conference Patrick Nielsen-Denis Douglin Set For May 28 in Denmark De La Hoya: Canelo Has Surpassed What I Accomplished at His Age Video: Roman Martinez on Overcoming Lomachenko Defense Stevenson Motivated To Reach Childhood Dream of Olympic Gold Tyson Fury: I Wish I Had Anthony Joshua's C**k, I Bet It's Big Manny Pacquiao Shocked at Kidnap Plot, Requests Added Security Video: DeGale on Facing Lucian Bute if He Shocks Badou Jack Jessie Vargas is Ready and Willing To Unify With Kell Brook Video: Badou Jack Talks Lucian Bute, DeGale vs. Medina, More Martinez's Promoter Details Situation With WBO Title, Berchelt Video: Felix Verdejo Talks New York City Return, Critics, More Video: Lucian Bute Confident That He's Downing Badou Jack Valdez Title Fight Under Consideration For Crawford-Postol PPV Video: James DeGale Putting in Work as Medina Fight Nears
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement