By Tim Graham
The Buffalo News, N.Y.
A girl from North Buffalo is more powerful in boxing than Don King.
There are few figures more important to the sport than Kelly Swanson, a Buffalo Seminary grad who has become boxing’s top publicist.
Swanson on Saturday night will once again be in the middle of a landmark event. Her most famous — and notorious — client is Floyd Mayweather Jr., who will fight Manny Pacquiao in history’s most lucrative bout.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s here,” Swanson said. “It was talked about for so long, and I always hoped it would happen. But the minute it was announced, you immediately saw how big it was.
“I’ve been involved with a lot of big fights, but this one is even at a higher level.”
Swanson oversees all of Mayweather’s media until well after the final bell sounds in MGM Grand Garden. Her clients also include former middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins and promoter Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” series.
She has appeared ahead of notable promoters, managers and fighters on Yahoo Sports’ annual list of boxing’s 25 most powerful people. King can’t crack that poll anymore. Haymon, a mysterious figure who rarely grant interviews, is No. 1.
“I consider her the most successful public relations person in the sport,” said Pacquiao’s publicist, Fred Sternburg. “I don’t think there’s anybody better.”
Mayweather-Pacquiao will be for the 147-pound championship, but Mayweather and Pacquiao also are considered the two best boxers in any weight class. That also puts the mythical pound-for-pound title at stake.
Mayweather has hinted he will make $200 million, win or lose. Pacquiao will earn the other 40 percent of the purse.
You can watch on pay-per-view TV for an unprecedented $99 or spend well over $100,000 to buy ringside seats on the secondary ticket market.