Three world title fights and four world champions appear to be making The Pond's first boxing show a big success. John Nicoletti, The Pond's public relations manager, said Monday that 8,000 tickets have been sold for Friday night's card, which begins at 6 p.m. and features world light flyweight champion Humberto Chiquita Gonzalez of Mexico defending his title against Jesus Zuniga of Colombia.
Nicoletti said the crowd could reach 12,000 by Friday.
"If it reaches 12,000, obviously that would make it one of the largest boxing crowds ever in Southern California," Nicoletti said. "We knew there was a tremendous number of fight fans in Orange County. It was just a matter of putting together the right kind of card.
"You have some great fighters (Jorge) Paez, Genaro Hernandez and Chiquita. Fight fans were waiting for a card like this."
Orange County has never been known as a boxing hotbed, but Nicoletti said he is not surprised by the response.
"It's tracking pretty much the way we expected," Nicoletti said. "This bodes very well for future of boxing at The Pond. We're looking forward to hosting several more boxing events here. This fight has proved to everyone that boxing can work here in Orange County."
Boxing has been successful on a small-scale basis at the Irvine Marriott for the last 11 years, but it has never worked at larger venues. Nicoletti said TVKO pay-per-view television has also enhanced the crowd figures.
"The word pay-per-view means a lot," he said. "It's free advertising for our event and it adds to our credibility. People see that it's a major event and they say, 'Hey, I've got a chance to be there.' "
Nicoletti added that Mike Tyson's release from prison probably won't hurt the gate either.
"All eyes have turned to the Tyson release and refocused some attention on boxing as a sport," he said.
Tickets are priced from $15 to $200 and seats are available in all categories.
Although the live card begins at 6 p.m., the pay-per-view card won't start until 7 p.m.