Country music stars Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley combined to knock out boxing standouts Andre Ward and Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic City.
Boardwalk Hall was among the contenders to host Ward-Pavlik on Jan. 26, 2013, but the arena had already booked the Miranda Lambert & Dierks Bentley "Locked and Reloaded" tour for that date. Thomas Rhett will also be performing.
"We had some discussions with (Ward's promoter) Dan Goossen, but there was a date availability issue," Caesars Entertainment consultant Ken Condon said via text message. "There was some interest, but the hall was not available."
Ward-Pavlik will instead be staged at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and televised on HBO Championship Boxing. Home to the USC Trojans' basketball and volleyball teams, then venue has never hosted a professional boxing event.
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), the WBA and WBC super-middleweight champion, fought at Boardwalk Hall last year. The Oakland, Calif. native won Showtime's "Super Six" tournament on Dec. 7, 2011 with a 12-round, unanimous decision over England's Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KOs) before an announced crowd of 5,626.
A fight against Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), the former middleweight champion, would likely draw twice as many people to Atlantic City. The Youngstown, Ohio native fought four times at Boardwalk Hall between 2007-2010 in front of thousands of fans from his hometown. Pavlik won the WBC/WBO middleweight crowns with a seventh-round TKO over Jermain Taylor before an announced crowd of 10,142 on Sept. 30, 2007.
Pavlik is now on the comeback trail after two stints in rehab for alcoholism and a series of other personal problems. Now living in California and training under Robert Garcia, he's posted four straight victories since a 12-round decision loss to current middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall in 2010.
"A.C. was in the running (for Ward-Pavlik) and you know it would have been huge being held on the Boardwalk," Goossen said in an email. "But it quickly left the running to host the event due to Ken Condon informing me there was a concert on the same night at the hall with tickets already on sale."
Lambert, the wife of fellow country music star and "The Voice" judge Blake Shelton, was recently named the 2012 Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA (Country Music Association) awards.