Jae C. Hong/AP
Manny Pacquiao throws a right at Oscar De La Hoya during the fourth round of their welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Las Vegas, like the rest of the country, is doing a post-Money Party detox. And, sure, you could make that point with a bunch of dry stats, like the fact that Nevada's foreclosure rate is one of the highest in the nation.
But I prefer a more personal evaluation — comparing Vegas from one fight night to another: the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather match I attended in May of 2007 and the De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao bout this past Saturday night.
How hard Vegas has been hit up was immediately evident when I was able to book a room on the Strip for half-off, last minute on a Saturday night. Speaking of half: My flight out of beautiful downtown Burbank, Calif., was only half full, and half of those folks were connectors headed on beyond Vegas.
McCarran Airport was as empty as Ford Field during the fourth quarter of a Detroit Lions game.
Now, a good indicator of the busy-ness of Vegas: how long the cab lines are. The one outside the airport was nonexistent.
I stopped by my hotel, where, finally, there was a line — for check-in. That probably had more to do with the obvious cutbacks at the front desk.
Throughout the hotel, free drink coupons and reduced admissions passes were being handed out as liberally as bailout packages in Washington.
The casino floor itself was a little slow but lively. Certainly not as subdued as when I was there just after 9/11. And most of the folks I talked with — cab drivers, casino hosts — agreed that things were bad, but not awful.
But this was a fight night. Back in 2007, tickets for De La Hoya-Mayweather sold out in a couple of hours. For De La Hoya-Pacquiao, I could have reserved a couple of eleventh-hour tickets for face value.
Instead — let's say that in the interest of investigative journalism, I procured some tickets from a gentleman outside the arena at a quadruple discount that put me right on the floor.
The sweet science is best observed close enough that one can see the sweat ejected from a head on the receiving end of a hot jab.
There were a lot of hot jabs Saturday night.
So, compared with a year and a half ago, is Vegas hurting? Very much so. And as a Vegas-phile, seeing the city down on a knee is painful to watch. But with discounted airfare, hotel room and fight tickets, this might be one of the few times I've traveled to The Meadows and actually made money.