Boxing a boon for state in ’08

Boxing again provided a financial bonanza for Nevada in 2008, starting with three big bouts in the first four months and ending with the highly anticipated Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao megafight.

The sport generated $4.1 million for state coffers in 2008. That was down slightly from $4.2 million in 2007, with much of that coming from Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s fights with De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton.

“In terms of generating revenue, we’ve had two of the biggest years in history with boxing the last two years,” said Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. “We had a big fight just about every month in 2008.”

There was Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor in February, Pacquiao’s rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez in March and Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe in April, all of which attracted big crowds. De La Hoya’s fight with Pacquiao on Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand Garden had the third-highest grossing gate in state history at $14,380,300.

However, don’t look for 2009 to be as kind to Nevada. With hotels being more selective about the number of big fights they will host because of the slumping economy, revenues are expected to drop this year.

“We have no control over that part of it,” Kizer said. “It’s up to the hotels to determine what fights are worth bringing to town.

“To be honest, I don’t know how many big boxing cards we can expect this coming year. Or anywhere, for that matter.”

Nevada already has lost a name fight, with the Jan. 24 welterweight bout between Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito being moved from Mandalay Bay to Los Angeles.

Many in the sport think the first big fight in Las Vegas will be in early May, with Pacquiao meeting Hatton at 140 pounds. But there is talk the fight could wind up in Dubai, where the rulers of the United Arab Emirates have plenty of money to outbid MGM Mirage if they so choose.

FEWER FINES — The number of fines levied against boxers in Nevada has fallen dramatically, and Kizer said the state’s strict anti-drug policy and random testing are largely responsible.

The commission levied $305,575 in fines against boxers, trainers and promoters in 2007. That number dropped to $35,550 last year.

“It means people are following the rules, which is what we want,” Kizer said. “My hope is that someday we have a zero in the column for fines. But this is a good direction we’re headed in.”

PRIMM CARD — The first professional card in Nevada for 2009 will be at Primm Valley Resorts on Friday as Yuriorkis Gamboa returns to the Star of the Desert Arena to face Roger Gonzalez in a 10-round featherweight main event. The card will begin at 5:15 p.m and will be televised by ESPN.

Gamboa, a former Olympic star from Cuba, is 12-0 with 10 knockouts as a pro and is the NABF featherweight champion. This will be his third appearance in Primm.

PLAZA CARD — Boxing returns to downtown Las Vegas on Jan. 23 with a card at the Plaza.

Bayan Jargal, a 26-year-old lightweight, will be featured. He is 9-0-1 with six KOs.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913.

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