By Chuck Johnson
DETROIT – Taking a cue from the Big Three automakers’ dramatic recovery, promoters of Saturday night’s “Super Fight” at the Silverdome are counting on Detroit-area boxing fans to follow the lead of the car-purchasing public and “Buy American.”
That was the message from Gary Shaw and Don King, co-promoters of the 140-pound title unification bout between Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley, unbeaten American world champions whose scheduled 12-rounder will be seen by a global audience on HBO World Championship Boxing (10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT), although it’s still unclear how many fans they’ll draw at a venue not known for boxing.
Ticket sales, priced from $25 to $400, were said to be about 60 percent of where promoters hoped they would be as of Thursday afternoon. That prompted Shaw, and especially King, to spend much of the final pre-fight press conference touting the bout to as many would-be buyers as they could.
“Other than (Manny) Pacquiao and (Floyd) Mayweather, this is the biggest fight that could be made,’’ Shaw said. “There won’t be any losers in this fight. Whoever wins will be a super star. The other will still be a star. The fans are going to see a great fight.”
“We’re calling on Governor Rick Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing, Aretha Franklin, all the CEOs of the Big Three, everybody,’’ King said. “Here’s a city that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. But it’s also a city that’s known for its great song lyrics and its great cars. There was a lot of venues we could have taken this fight, but Detroit has always been a great boxing town going back to Joe Louis. We came here not to ask what Detroit could do for us, but what we could do for Detroit.”
The Silverdome is actually located about 25 miles north of Detroit. The stadium opened 35 years ago as home of the NFL’s Lions but has largely been vacant since the Lions moved to downtown Detroit in 2001. On Saturday, no Lions but two battle-tested gladiators will command attention in the spacious dome.
Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs) and Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) are clearly two of the best U.S. fighters making an impact in a sport increasingly headlined by fighters from other countries.
Neither Alexander, dressed in a black skull cap and sweat suit, nor Bradley, who wore a beige sport jacket, blue shirt and print tie, had brash words to say to each other at the Thursday’s press conference, which was held in downtown Detroit at the Motor City Casino and Hotel.
“I’m not here to talk,’’ said Bradley, the “Desert Storm” from Palm Springs, Calif. “I’m focused on coming here to do my job. I do want everyone at home to come down and check it out, because it’s going to be something you’ll never forget in your life.”
“This is something I’ve been wanting my whole life since I was seven years old,’’ said Alexander “The Great,” from St. Louis. “I’m very excited and I’m 120 per cent ready. After all the stories that have been written, it’s still going to come down to me and Bradley in the ring. I’m ready to rock and roll and I know he is too.”