More than 8,000 tickets were sold in quick time for the August 3 bill at the BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, headlined by Terence Crawford’s move up to 154lbs to take on Israil Madrimov.

It is the first Riyadh Season boxing event to take place outside of Saudi Arabia, and while the thick card and the prospect of a performance from Eminem would have put bums on seats, fight manager Sean Gibbons believes the addition of two of his fighters on the bill have particularly helped 

“All I’m gonna tell you is Pitbull-mania,” Gibbons said, referring to the popular Mexican Isaac Cruz, set to defend his WBA 140lbs title on the show against Jose Valenzuela. “I would say Pitbull-mania, [heavyweight contender] Andy Ruiz… Los Angeles is an extension of Mexico. 

“It’s not Omaha, Nebraska [where Crawford lives]. But, His Excellency has stacked such a good card together that you have a lot of people who maybe aren’t boxing fans but they’re big event fans but I’m gonna say the proof’s in the pudding. Crawford has never fought in Los Angeles. Andy Ruiz and Pitbull pretty much sold out the Staples Center back in 2001. When Isaac was with Gervonta [Davis], he did a huge crowd, just did a great crowd here [Las Vegas] with [Rolando] Romero, so I’m gonna say a lot of it is going to be Pitbull and Andy Ruiz for sure.”

Of course, Gibbons has not given up on the idea of Cruz rematching Davis, whom he pushed close when they met previously. Now Cruz has a world title of his own, too.

“I can tell you, everywhere I’ve gone the last three years, I’m at airports, I’m at bars, people of all nationalities are saying, ‘When are you fighting Gervonta?’ It’s the biggest fight that can be made for Gervonta, and for Pitbull. 

“Not Teofimo [Lopez]. Not Devin Haney. Not Ryan [Gracia] again. Ryan and Gervonta, we’ve already seen what it did. So Pitbull brings a whole fanbase, a whole country, I think it’s really big. [The fight with Pitbull is] Still the closest fight he’s had 

“Ryan needed Tank to do business in New York. Ryan’s all over the place. The Gervonta one is the one they want to see. They want to see the Mexican Mike Tyson versus the reincarnation of Mike Tyson.” 

Does Gibbons think a rematch could get near seven figures on pay-per-view given the increased popularity of both since they first met?

“With all the stealing, all the firesticks and all that… you would hope to get up there.”

Gibbons is also working on trying to secure Manny Pacquaio a return to boxing to challenge Mario Barrios later this year. 

“Manny is going to fight July 28 in Japan [in an exhibition], on the Rizen card, and we’re in talks with Mario Barrios’ team, about putting the fight together. The fight is easily made, but the problem as always is finding dates, finding a platform for it to go on. September-October. 

“Depending on what Canelo does, if he fights on Independence Weekend, I think October is more realistic if it could happen. Only one place for it, Viva Las Vegas. Where would you go? There’s no other place but Vegas.”

Gibbons has been in Las Vegas this week with his fighters Ricardo Salas and Mark Magsayo. Salas’ fight with Roiman Villa felll off the show when Villa feinted in the week, but veteran Magsayo defeated Eduardo Ramirez on points and Gibbons was full of praise for the Filipino former featherweight champion.

“We had the worst luck ever,” Gibbons explained. “We had to fight Gary Russell, arguably the best 126-pounder at that time in the world, beat Gary Russell and our reward was we had to go right to the mandatory with Rey Vargas. Say what you want, I thought we won, we didn’t get a close decision, and then to go into a fight with Brandon Figueroa, arguably one of the toughest guys to fight with that style, and Mark was struggling at 126lbs, and it showed in the fight. 

“He won the first half of the fight and kind of lost the second half to lose a close decision. That’s why he’s moving up to 130lbs and this was his second fight there.”