The Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light-heavyweight fight April 28 at Boardwalk Hall is shaping up to be one of the biggest fights to hit Atlantic City in four years.
The arena originally was configured to seat 7,000 fans, but tickets have been selling at such a brisk pace that another 1,300 are being made available today.
An 8,300-seat sellout would make the fight the largest since 11,332 watched Hopkins hand Kelly Pavlik his first career loss Oct. 18, 2008. The last Atlantic City fight to draw more than 6,000 fans occurred April 17, 2010, when 6,179 saw Pavlik lose to Sergio Martinez.
"I think there's a one-two punch behind (the strong ticket sales for Hopkins-Dawson II)," Caesars Entertainment consultant Ken Condon said Wednesday in a phone interview. "I think the controversial ending to their first fight provides some mystique to the rematch. Also, Bernard Hopkins is a boxing legend, but he's 47 years old and no one knows how much longer he's going to fight, so people want to see him before he retires."
Another reason could be the prices of the tickets, which range from $25 to $300 for ringside. This is the first fight at Boardwalk Hall's main arena in recent memory that has featured $25 seats.
Promoters Gary Shaw and Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, set the ticket prices for the card, which also features a heavyweight showdown between Seth Mitchell and Paulsboro resident Chazz Witherspoon for the vacant NABO title.
"From what I understand, this is one of the best-selling events (in Atlantic City) in a long time," Schaefer said Tuesday in a conference call. "It proves that if you price fights right, people will come. Spending $25 to see a doubleheader like this is unheard of."
The hype surrounding the Hopkins-Dawson fight also likely has played a role in the demand for tickets.
They first fought in Los Angeles last Oct. 15. The bout abruptly ended in the second round when Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) flipped Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) to the canvas. Hopkins, who reportedly suffered a dislocated left shoulder, was not permitted to continue and the fight was stopped.
"I really don't believe he was hurt," Dawson said Tuesday in a conference call. "He showed he really didn't want to be in the ring with me. He keeps saying otherwise, but I looked into Bernard's eyes that night and I know he didn't want to be there. I just hope he comes to fight this time and we can give the fans their money's worth."
Hopkins repeatedly has risen to challenges in Atlantic City. The Philadelphia native has a 15-1 record with nine knockouts there.
His two biggest victories in recent years - decisions over Pavlik and Antonio Tarver on June 10, 2006 - both happened at Boardwalk Hall.
"If you remember, most people had me losing to Kelly Pavlik before I beat him," Hopkins said Tuesday in a conference call. "You're going to see me re-enact what I did in that fight. I want to beat Chad Dawson in one of the greatest places I've fought, and that's Atlantic City."
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