LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - With security beefed up at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the rich and famous settled into their expensive seats shortly before the welterweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao began on Saturday.
Tickets for a hotly anticipated megabout dubbed the “Fight of the Century” have been coveted by A-listers and high-rollers, with no guarantee that prime front row spots would be granted for every request from the biggest names in show business.
Around 900 ringside seats were available for the celebrities, business tycoons and entertainment moguls who have converged on Las Vegas, and actors Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck were among those who secured the prized positions.
Tennis greats Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf, were also in the front rows, squeezed in alongside boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Hollywood stars Christian Bale and Michael Keating.
Other high-profile fans watching ringside, where seats have demanded up to $350,000 on the resale site StubHub, included former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield and retired NBA stars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller.
Also making their way into the Arena via the red carpet were American actors Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Claire Danes, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and English musician Sting.
The atmosphere in the heavily secured 16,800-seat Garden Arena was electric as the two fighters prepared to make their way to the ring for a bout that is expected to be the biggest grossing of all time with a ‘Who’s Who’ of society looking on.
However, not every A-lister ended up close to the action with some of them bumped into the upper seating levels.
“They can’t all sit in the front row,” said Dena duBoef of Top Rank promotions, who represent Pacquiao. “Tickets and seating have probably been the biggest nightmare for this fight.”
Fewer than 1,000 tickets for the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout were offered to the public, and those were snapped up in seconds.
The remainder was divided among the two fighters’ promotion companies and MGM Resorts, which made seats available to their best customers -- gamblers who carry a minimum $250,000 credit line in the casino.
“It’s very disappointing that so few tickets were available to the fans,” Pacquiao fan Raymond Avenido from Hermosa Beach, California told Reuters.
”It would have been nice to have had a bigger venue, and make the tickets affordable for those of us who are not high-paying customers.
“As a boxing fan, I would have paid between $500 and $800. That should be the ceiling for someone who has been following Manny Pacquiao since he was still boxing in the Philippines.”
Editing by Frank Pingue