How Las Vegas Stole New York's Crown as the Fight Capital of the World

Las Vegas is often described as an adult playground as it is home to a whole host of different forms of entertainment aimed almost entirely at adults. On a short break to the city, you’ll be able to ride roller coasters, abseil off the side of a tower, party all night in clubs, drive supercars, eat in Michelin-starred restaurants, and enjoy a wide variety of different shows.

It wasn’t always like this. Just over 100 years ago, Las Vegas was little more than a piece of desert. The city was officially founded in 1905 when 110 acres were auctioned off to citizens and businesses. After 1910, the entire state of Nevada outlawed all forms of betting, so Las Vegas was a far cry from what it is today.

The Birth of Modern Vegas

However, in the 1930s, Las Vegas became home to many of the workers that were constructing the Hoover Dam, causing the city to grow from a population of 5,000 to 25,000 almost overnight.

All these workers needed something to do for entertainment in the evening, and casinos were seen as one of the solutions. By 1931, Nevada had legalised betting again, and the Las Vegas we know today began to take shape.

In the decades that followed, Las Vegas grew into the global capital for all types of betting, operating dozens of large casinos and sportsbooks.


Today, Las Vegas faces a lot of competition from cities like Atlantic City, Macau, and Singapore. Additionally, some of the best places to play blackjack are online thanks to the growth of internet casinos. This means that casinos simply aren’t enough to keep punters coming through the door.

Casino owners have been well aware of this for many years now, so began finding ways to diversify their offering several decades ago. This is why the big integrated resorts now make the majority of their money from other activities.

One of the ways that Las Vegas attracts people today is by hosting sporting events. The city is home to several professional teams, including the Las Vegas Raiders, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Las Vegas Aces.

The Fight Capital

It’s also been the dominant host of boxing and MMA fights for over 50 years. It took the crown from New York which had been hosting fights for several decades. However, a number of corruption scandals and oversaturation of events had seen the public’s interest in the sport wane.

The first organised boxing match in Vegas took place in 1955, though it wasn’t hosted in a casino. Instead, an open-air venue was chosen in the desert, resulting in a lower-than-expected turnout.

However, for the casino owners, it was proof that Las Vegas could be a viable host for big fights. For boxing, Vegas was a new home that could help undo the damage done by New York.

In the 1960s, the casinos worked together to host fights for the mutual benefit of everyone by arranging them to take place in neutral venues. But self-interest eventually saw this change as individual casinos began to host their own fights.

This is the format we know today with many big names like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mike Tyson, and Manny Pacquiao all fighting inside Las Vegas casinos.

Today, more fights are being held outside Vegas, with the UFC hosting some of its fights in New York and Miami also becoming a popular venue. However, Vegas remains the home of combat sports and will continue to be one of many revenue sources for its casino owners.

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