By Rick Reeno
The middleweight clash between WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32KOs) and challenger Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28KOs) continues to be a hot, hot ticket. The September 15th event, taking place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, is on track to have a potential paid attendance figure of 18,000 or more.
Top Rank's President, Todd duBoef, confirmed to BoxingScene.com that only 1,690 tickets were remaining as of Thursday.
BoxingScene spoke to Daren Libonati, the President and CEO of Justice Entertainment Group. He was formerly the executive director for the Thomas & Mack Center. Libonati, who spent ten years with the Thomas & Mack, continues to work with the venue by bringing them major events.
Libonati is very impressed with the fan response to Chavez-Martinez, and he believes the paid attendance figure will challenge, or even rival, two of the most successful boxing events at the Thomas & Mack - Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales III [reported attendance of 18,276 on November 18, 2006] and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs. Hector Camacho Sr. [reported attendance figure of 19,100 on September 12, 1992].
"On a September 12th date many years ago, I want to say it's 1992 - we did a Mexican Independence Day [event] with Julio Cesar Chavez and Camacho. We believe that [this event] is on track to beat that attendance. We're over 15,000 paid now. There is no question that we are going to reach full capacity. We've adjusted the floor and added more seats. We could easily be over 18,000 people....paid," Libonati told BoxingScene.com.
According to Libonati, the big difference between this event, and other past sporting events at the Thomas & Mack, is the "paid attendance" figure which continues to rise on a daily basis.
"We're probably looking at the highest attended paid event since the last one that we had on this level and that was Pacquiao-Morales and that was 17,800 [paid]. We're easily going to hit that. This is going to flirt with the all-time highest attended boxing event in the venue and really the highest attended event [at the venue]," Libonati said.
"It will probably be even higher than what we've had for basketball because you have seats on the floor. When you calculate all of the seats, the press, the media, the suites - we could easily be over 18,500."