Just spoke to Chris Lechunga, spokesman for UTEP, who said the university
police had no reports of violent incidents and made no arrests at the
Mares-Morel fight at the Don Haskins Center on campus last Saturday night.
There hasn't been a punch thrown yet in the match between Julio Cesar
Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee, but the Chancellor of the Texas University System
has already delivered a knockout blow.
The WBC middleweight title match was supposed to take place at Sun Bowl
Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas-El Paso on June 16, but
Chancellor Francisco Gonzalez Cigarroa pulled the plug on Tuesday, citing
unspecified security risks.
"We did a standard security risk assessment, as we do with all UT System
sites for events, and the conclusion was the risk was higher than normal
and that Sun Bowl Stadium wasn't the appropriate venue for this event,"
Anthony DeBruyn, a spokesman for the Chancellor's office, said on
DeBruyn would not go into any specific details of what those higher risks
were. But some in the area have inferred that Cigarroa is concerned about
violence along the border between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico would
increase and spill over into Sun Bowl Stadium on the night of the fight
because Chavez is a very popular boxer in Mexico. He is the son of
legendary Hall of Famer, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
Cigarroa's decision, which came without a vote from the UT Board of
Regents, has created a firestorm among politicians and civic leaders in El
Officials involved in staging the boxing match were informed of the
decision an hour before a press conference to announce the fight was to be
held in El Paso. Bob Arum, the promoter for Chavez, was caught completely
"Talk about a kick in the (butt). All the fighters had been flown in. We
were all in the hotel lobby getting ready to go over to the press
conference when we heard the news," Arum said. "Nobody can figure out why
the hell he's talking about. If there is concern with border violence,
what does that have to do with the UTEP campus? This really is just a
racist thing. He's saying that Hispanics, who would make up the bulk of
the audience for a Chavez fight, can't be relied upon to behave at an
What makes Cigarroa's decision even more curious is that there was a
boxing match between Abner Mares and Erik Morel at the Don Haskins Center
on the UTEP Campus this past Saturday. There were no reports of violence
before, during or after the Mares-Morel fight.
DeBruyn said he didn't know whether there were any security risks
associated with that fight. Chris Lechunga, spokesman for UTEP, said the
university police had no reports of violent incidents and made no arrests
at the Mares-Morel fight.
El Paso Mayor John Cook told the El Paso Times that Cigarroa's decision to
KO the boxing match at the Sun Bowl reflects poorly on the city.
"It was extremely ignorant of the chancellor when people make remarks like
that (about border violence) and don't consider the consequences to
communities like El Paso," Cook said. "Is this chancellor thinking of
closing the UTEP campus down? If the Sun Bowl is so dangerous to the
athletes, is this chancellor thinking about the students on campus? Is he
thinking of canceling all of the UTEP home games? I'm very upset somebody
in his position would do something like that."
Arum was hoping to repeat what he did when he was promoting Oscar De La
Hoya and brought him to the Sun Bowl in 1998. De La Hoya's match against
Frenchman Patrick Charpentier drew a crowd of 45,368.
Arum said he is looking at the Toyota Center in Houston and the Alamodome
in San Antonio as possible alternative sites if they can't find a suitable
location in El Paso.
"We don't want to abandon the people of El Paso," Arum said.