AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas set a new record attendance for an indoor boxing event in the US on Saturday night as 73,126 fans watched Canelo Alvarez’s victory over Billy Joe Saunders.

The attendance surpassed the previous record of around 63,000, which was set at Muhammad Ali’s fight against Leon Spinks at New Orleans’ Superdome in 1978. Saturday’s fight also marked the largest sporting attendance in the US since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.

Fans attending Saturday’s fight, which Alvarez won in the eighth round, were encouraged to wear masks but it was not a requirement. The large crowd was made possible after Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in March that restrictions on fan attendance in the state would be lifted, a move which has enabled the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team to open Globe Life Field at full capacity this season.

AT&T Stadium has a capacity of 80,000 and primarily serves as the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, which hosted significantly larger crowds than other teams in the league last season amid lighter restrictions in Texas. The stadium’s roof was closed during Saturday’s fight.

The previous pandemic record attendance for a sporting event in the US was set earlier this month as 51,838 fans turned out for the Kentucky Derby horse-racing event.

The current global record for attendance at a sporting event in the COVID-19 era is 78,113, which was set last month during the AFL match between Collingwood and Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The previous record was around 66,000, which was set during March’s Twenty20 cricket match between India and England at Narendra Modi Stadium.

A new record could be set on May 30 at the Indy 500 motorsport event after plans were announced to welcome around 135,000 fans to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The racetrack is the largest sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 seats and the ability to host almost 400,000 on event days throughout the site.

The plan to open the venue at 40% capacity has been developed in close consultation with state and local health officials and has been approved by the Marion County Public Health Department.

Image: Matchroom Boxing