Amir Khan night showed there's no place like Las Vegas on big fight night
Updated 6:11am Monday 12th May 2014 in Sport
Bolton journalist Chris Flanagan was at Amir Khan's big fight in Las Vegas last weekend. Here, he tells why the American city is so special on big boxing nights.
AMIR Khan may not have been the main attraction for once, but he played his part in one of the richest nights in boxing history last Saturday.
Back in Las Vegas, they are still counting the profits.
There is nothing quite like a fight night in Vegas, particularly when the action in the ring is as enthralling as it was seven days ago.
Add Mike Tyson, Justin Bieber, more than 5,000 angry Argentinians and a post-fight stampede, and it was a night not to be forgotten for anyone present in the sell-out crowd at the MGM Grand – the traditional home of the super fight.
Any fight involving Floyd Mayweather automatically becomes a super fight, such is his phenomenal financial pulling power. His nickname is “Money” for a reason.
Hundred-foot posters of Mayweather adorned the exterior of the MGM Grand in the build-up to his fight with Marcos Maidana on Saturday.
Mayweather held his pre-fight press conference three days before the bout, but the media scrum around him was such that English journalists were denied the chance to ask the pound-for-pound king his thoughts on Khan.
Thursday morning saw Mayweather comically arrive at a press event aboard a giant digger to celebrate the ground-breaking news of a new boxing arena set to be built in Las Vegas.
On Thursday afternoon came another press conference. Normally an undercard would not require its own media event but this was different, with both Khan and the highly-rated Adrien Broner supporting Mayweather on the bill.
If Khan is used to being the main event, he was still relishing the chance to experience the very biggest kind of boxing occasion.
Sporting a dapper blue suit for the press conference, he was earning $1.5m for his fight against Luis Collazo – half a million more than his purse when he headlined against Danny Garcia in his last bout in Las Vegas.
Even before pay-per-view TV profits, Mayweather was receiving $32m for fighting at the MGM Grand, who pay him well to make sure he keeps returning to the venue.
Gate receipts reached $15m, and a Mayweather fight packs out the hotel and its casinos all week.
By fight night the place was swarming with people – many of whom were avid Mayweather fans, many were Argentinians in town to support Maidana.
A number of Khan fans had got hold of tickets too, despite the fact that the event had sold out by the time the Bolton boxer’s fight with Collazo was officially announced.
Inside the arena Khan’s supporters cheered from high in the stands as their man cruised to an impressive victory over Collazo.
Ringside to watch him were the likes of Tyson, David Haye, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward and Oscar de la Hoya.
Then came the main event. Mayweather’s bizarre entrance saw him accompanied to the ring by clowns, jugglers and a rapper, as well as pop star Bieber carrying the boxer’s belts.
Mayweather traditionally fights in early May to coincide with the Cinco de Mayo festival, which attracts Hispanics in their droves to Las Vegas.
Thousands of Argentinians – including tennis ace Juan Martin del Potro – made a cacophonous noise before the first bell.
The fight was gripping and much closer than Khan’s contest with Collazo.
When Mayweather deservedly edged the verdict, the protests from those from Argentina were long and vociferous.
Maidana was then mobbed in potentially dangerous scenes as he left the ring. He had lost, but he was being worshipped like Elvis Presley.
Things were similarly chaotic outside the arena, as a temporary wall collapsed in the crush for the exit, causing a stampede. A total of 24 people were taken to hospital.
The press conference room had to be barricaded in the mayhem.
Inside, Mayweather was his typical cocksure self after his 46th victory in 46 fights. Few can hold an audience quite like him.
Khan, with sunglasses to mask the inevitable bruises of an evening in the ring, spoke well too. He had played his part in the mania of a Vegas super fight night, and now he wants more.
Next time, he wants to be the main event.
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