Why is Las Vegas the Fight Capital of the World?
If there’s a big fight, whether it be a boxing match or a UFC event, you can be pretty sure it’s going to be happening in Las Vegas. The city in the middle of Nevada’s deserts has become the unofficial capital of combat sports both in the United States and the rest of the world.
Many of the biggest battles of the last century have been held in Vegas, including Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns in 1981, Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo in 2005, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor in 1990, Mike Tyson vs. Frank Bruno in 1990, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Of course, Las Vegas is renowned for its large casino resorts but in the 21st century, it doesn’t hold a monopoly over these popular games. Other jurisdictions, both in the US and elsewhere in the world permitted casino owners to operate. Additionally, the internet has made it possible for millions of people to have access to popular casino games like blackjack and slots through their computers and smartphones. In fact, there are also many no-deposit casino sites that mean players can enjoy these games for free.
Therefore, those in charge of Las Vegas and its many casinos know that they need to offer other entertainment to keep customers coming. Over the years, the large integrated resorts have added nightclubs, theme parks, shopping malls, swimming pools, fine dining, live shows, and sport to diversify the offering and increase the appeal of the city. Among this, boxing matches now play a big role.
Vegas Wasn’t Always the Leader
This wasn’t always the case though. Before the second half of the 20th century, New York was the centre of American fighting sports. This was because boxing was one of the first televised sports and became incredibly popular in the early years of the medium. The big TV companies that had their headquarters in the city, it made logistical sense for them to host
But just like how the Big Apple lost its dominance in the movie industry, it was also overtaken in the boxing world.
The Big Apple Went Stale
TV execs milked boxing on TV for everything they could, however, this had a detrimental effect on the quality of the fights and led to dwindling viewing figures. A series of scandals were the final straw, and promoters began looking for a new home for boxing to get a fresh start.
They found this in Las Vegas. The first fight to take place in the city was between Nino Valdes and Archie Moore and casino owners stumped up the equivalent of $1 million in today’s money to pay for the hosting costs.
It was a big success and the casino owners began funding more fights, safe in the knowledge that it would lead to an increase in the number of customers playing their games during their time in Vegas.
Eventually, the casino owners built their own purpose-built venues for hosting fights, increasing the quality for TV and in-person audiences, as well as increasing the number of people that could buy tickets.
That’s how we have the huge arenas that are so common today, as it helps casino owners to attract more bettors into their facilities that night, something they know will help takings on the gaming floor.