UFC PRESIDENT Dana White has flirted with the idea of moving into boxing promotion for several years now. Initially it was going to be Zuffa Boxing, a brand new promotional outfit that would invade the sport and change it for good. Then, White claimed that boxing is far too complicated and that he doesn’t have the time nor effort to make a serious play.

Well, he’s now backtracked on that backtrack and is apparently going to officially launch a boxing promotion in the next 12 to 24 months. That’s according to an interview he gave to the Sports Business Journal in which he said, “I don’t know if I can fix the sport but I think I can put on fights that people want to see and I can make boxing interesting again and build a brand around it.”

For argument’s sake, let’s take White at his word and expect him to launch this company within the next two years – how would that look? The first issue would be broadcasting – White hasn’t given any hints as to a broadcast deal for his potential new boxing venture. The UFC are currently in a lucrative contract with ESPN, while here in the UK its shows air on BT Sport.

Given those pre-existing relationships, White may be able to extend those deals to his new boxing promotion. However, White’s most recent venture outside of the UFC – the Power Slap League, where two people literally just stand in front of one another and take turns slapping each other as hard as they can – originally signed a broadcast deal with TBS. That deal will only last for one season though as TBS decided to end the partnership – obscure streaming platform Rumble then picked up global rights.

It’s unlikely a boxing company would face the same struggles though, as the Power Slap League has been mired in controversy ever since it launched back in January and does not have the established audience that boxing does.

Then there is the matter of which boxers White could lure in. And this is where things get really interesting. At this stage it’s unclear whether Endeavour – the parent company of the UFC – would also be involved in this move into boxing. If it is, it would have the resources to grant White an enormous war chest, not dissimilar to the one DAZN launched with a few years ago.

If White is able to establish a deal with a major broadcaster and then also have the funds to pay fighters hefty purses, he would have almost everything he needs to attract some of boxing’s biggest stars.

Of course, new boxing promotions pop up all the time – so why all this fuss over one that hasn’t even officially launched? It’s because of the UFC. As a brand and a business, it is enormously successful and bigger than any other fight promotion on the planet. It has its own rankings and world titles and is universally recognised as the place where the best mixed martial artists on the planet ply their trade.

If a similar model was effectively introduced to the boxing market, it would cause disruption on a level we have never seen. The UFC’s monopoly on MMA means that sanctioning bodies like the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF are irrelevant. They have one set of rankings and one champion per division (bar the odd ‘Interim’ champion when the full champion is otherwise indisposed). Drug testing procedures are the same for every fighter signed to the UFC. All the big decisions are made in-house. There are no broadcast disputes.

So, if the UFC model could be copy-and-pasted onto boxing, it seems like it would solve a lot of major problems. But it’s not that simple. One of, if not the, largest criticisms levelled at the UFC is the amount it pays its fighters. Their purses – particularly those at the top level – pale in comparison to that of boxers. And those lower outgoings are part of the reason the UFC continues to grow.

It’s almost impossible for White to implement the UFC model in boxing while still paying any boxers he signs the kind of purses they’ve grown accustomed to.

That’s what makes this move so fascinating. White has a wildly successful blueprint to work from, but he needs to tweak it so that it is sustainable within the wildlands of boxing. When the UFC began, MMA was still in its infancy and operating in the shadows. Boxing is an established and major global sport – to carve out a success within it is no easy feat.

Apparently it’s also not that easy to fail in boxing either. Despite failing two drug tests last year and not yet fully clearing his name, Conor Benn is looking at an extremely lucrative return to action. According to promoter Eddie Hearn there are three options on the table: Manny Pacquiao, Chris Eubank Jnr and Kell Brook. You might notice that two of those names are currently retired from boxing, but don’t let that fool you.

Any one of those fights would be huge and, let’s face it, for all the wrong reasons. Pacquiao and Brook should be doing their best to make the most of their well-earned retirements while Eubank Jnr – who of course was supposed to fight Benn before the failed tests came to light – would have to once again boil himself down to do so.

It’s a sorry state of affairs. Benn should be focusing solely on legitimately clearing his name with the evidence he already claims to have but instead he will be rewarded with what will surely be the largest purse of his career to date.

Boxing on the Box


March 24

Lyndon Arthur-Braian Nahuel Suarez

Channel 5

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March 25

Lawrence Okolie-David Light

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March 26

Jose Zepeda-Neeraj Goyat


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