Texas chancellor reverses ban on Chavez-Lee fight
EL PASO, Texas – The University of Texas System chancellor announced Friday he will allow a high-profile boxing match to be held on the school’s El Paso campus if law enforcement can ensure a safe environment, reversing a 3-day-old ban that had upset city leaders.
Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa had canceled the June 16 fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee at the Sun Bowl, citing a “higher than normal” security risk. A law enforcement official told the Associated Press on Friday that a federal risk assessment had warned that leaders of warring Mexican drug cartels would attend.
Diana Natalicio, the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, said Cigarroa told her one reason he canceled the fight was a tie between Chavez Jr. and Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman mentioned in a federal security report.
Local media have reported Chavez Jr. is in a relationship with the Guzmans’ son’s widow.
Natalicio thanked city officials and others for their efforts to bring the fight back to El Paso.
“I am very pleased and very happy he arrived at this conclusion … it is an important positive step in the right direction,” she said.
Cigarroa set several conditions for the fight to go forward: State, local and federal law enforcement must promise they can handle any security measures, the contract with the promoter and the security plan must be approved by system officials in advance, and no alcohol can be served.
Fight promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said he was surprised by the restrictions. Arum said he’ll have to get assurances from the University of Texas at El Paso and local police by early next week that they can be met. If not, Arum said he’ll move the fight to Houston.
“This is preposterous. We’ve never had one bit of problems in Los Angeles, Houston or San Antonio, which are all big Hispanic communities, on a Chavez fight,” Arum said.
Cigarroa said he met by teleconference with local and federal law enforcement and city leaders and they assured him they can provide proper security.
Arum would not confirm the relationship between Chavez Jr.’s girlfriend and Guzman’s late son.
“I am offended,” Arum said. “She (Chavez Jr.’s girlfriend) is a nice woman.”
The risk report, done by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, also said leaders of both the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels would be present at the fight.
But it said there were no specific threats to the city, the event or those attending it, the law enforcement official said.
The cartels have waged a bloody war in Ciudad Juarez across the Rio Grande from El Paso for control of drug smuggling routes and other criminal enterprises in the city.