Wednesday, August 21, 2019

UFC president Dana White intends to launch ZUFFA Boxing by October.

Boxing and mixed martial arts are the world's two most popular combat sports. Where some fans see them as rivals, the simple fact is that if you like fighting, you like both. However, MMA today has the vast majority of top fighters in the UFC, and they fight each other. Boxing by contrast in an alphabet soup full of nuts. Boxing sanctioning bodies only get paid when there is a title on the line. As a consequence, there are a lot of titles.

For men alone, the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO recognize 74 different world champions in 17 weight divisions; types include Super, Undisputed, Unified, Regular, and Interim. There are other sanctioning bodies as well, including the IBO and WBF, so the list of champions is incalculable.

In a recent example highlighting the shortcomings of The Sweet Science, Tyson Fury’s next opponent is Otto Wallin, a big Swede you've never heard ot, who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. In a recent interview with Helen Yee, White said he wants to do better.

“Right there is one of the biggest problems with the sport of boxing,” said White, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “You’ve got a guy like Tyson Fury who comes off this amazing fight with Deontay Wilder. It was a good fight, people loved the fight, and people were excited about it, and what happens? It ends in a draw and they don’t rematch. Or they don’t fight one of the other big two. How does that happen? How is that even possible? Again, that’s the sport and it’s one of the really not only bad things about the sport it’s one of the really stupid things about boxing. Everybody wants to fight over their little tiny piece of turf when realistically, if they did things the right way, there’s tons of money for everybody. Everybody would make a lot of money, more fans would get involved, there’d be more media coverage, and the list goes on and on.”

“It’s the sport and the politics in the sport and it has always been that way and if somebody doesn’t change it, it’s always gonna be that way. [ZUFFA Boxing will promote boxers] just like we promote all these guys here [in the UFC]. First of all, in boxing there is no brand. I always talk about the machine, the UFC machine we’ve built here, and when we put guys or girls who are talented in the machine, you start to build them and there’s nothing like that in boxing. That’s what I want to build. I would do it just like I’ve done it here.”

Still, White concedes that replicating the UFC model in boxing will be an uphill battle.

“It is what it is,” said White. “I’m not acting like I’m Mr. I’m-Gonna-Come-In-And-Save-Everybody-And-Fix-Everything. I don’t know if it can be fixed. It might be so broken that it can’t be fixed. I don’t know the answer to that but we’re gonna try.”

The purses for the top figures in boxing far exceed those for top UFC fighters, although White argues that for the athletes below that level, the UFC is a better deal. However, a number of top UFC fighters have expressed interest in following Conor McGregor, who reportedly made around $100 million boxing Floyd Mayweather. White is lukewarm about cross over bouts.

“I don’t love it,” said White. “I don’t love the idea of guys crossing over because these guys that box, these four big heavyweights we’re talking about, they’ve been doing it their whole life. These guys are really good, very talented athletes. They would get killed in MMA and these guys would probably get beat up in boxing so I don’t love the idea but we did Mayweather-McGregor so I guess I can never say never anymore.”