FRIDAY UPDATE: Sho boxing boss Stephen Espinoza took to Twitter to weigh in on the subject of just why it is that UFC chief Dana White has said he's so disgusted with Showtime that he'd not want to do business with them again. We'd been wondering…
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MMA bossman Dana White hasn’t even really, truly officially jumped into the boxing pool, and the man is making waves, big-time.
In a chat with MMA/boxing reporter Kevin Iole, White, currently in Thailand for some vacation time, was asked about where his plans to juggle MMA and now add the boxing promotional chainsaw into his act.
Why do boxing?
“Apparently I don’t have enough to do, Kevin,” White answered, tongue jammed into cheek. “The guys who are promoting boxing today are bad at it,” he said, which he figured out after working hand in hand with boxing guys to make the Money Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor scrap. “I don’t think they do a good job and I think I could do better. Sounds arrogant, but it’s the truth…I don’t give a shit about Showtime’s fucking full of shit press release they put out, it’s the biggest fight ever, ever in combat sports history. The thing did over 6.7 million buys, and if the service didn’t drop we would have got closer to 7 million. It was the biggest boxing event ever, without a boxer.”
White continued to hammer at Showtime. “The way that they handled that press release, and what they did. I didn’t trust those guys before and now I despise those fucking guys. I’ll never work with them again, ever.”
Wow…scorched earth stuff. Maybe mildly surprising being that all the chefs combined to make a tasty dish, if we are using typical measuring sticks i.e. piles of money.
The UFC honcho said he thinks he can raise the level of the sport of boxing.
One element that could be sticky for White will be pay. Boxers make more of the gross than MMA fighters do…that could open up a Pandora’s box for him, and have his MMA guys clamoring for more dough.
HBO isn’t doing as much boxing, White continued, and the Top Rank deal with ESPN isn’t great, White said. He wonders how much money will be there to trickle down to the lower tiers. His system would have “mid-level” guys making good money, ‘supporting their families, living in good homes.' “You have to go out and get a real TV deal, not a Bob Arum TV deal…Bob Arum talks all this shit, Bob Arum is literally copying every fucking thing that we’ve done and regurgitating everything I’ve said the last 17 years.”
Iole noted that Arum and Top Rank are getting lots of exposure from the ESPN deal, and White offered that exposure isn’t helpful when, say, a 2. Contrast that with the balls shown by, say, a Robbie Lawler.
He’s basically insinuating that his presence will change fighters’ mindsets, that his structures, which include bonus inducements for superior performance, will make some fighters more hungry, and fight harder.
Does White want to be grinding away in his 60s?; yes, basically, he said… “it’s what I love to do,” and Arum is out there and doing his thing, he stated, over-stating Arum's age by twenty years.
White says he’s been “blown away” by the reception he’s received after announcing he wants to dip into the pugilism pool, and aside from Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya, he wants meetings with all the top dealmakers. He says he agrees with Arum, who has been vocal in stating that he’s encouraged by polling and measuring which shows a younger demo is taking to boxing, that it’s not so much an “old man sport” as had been assumed.
Iole also asked if White had talked to Al Haymon about a mutually beneficial arrangement. White said he likes Haymon, and he’s open to working with most everyone. He will do more meetings the rest of the month, and in February, he said. “I’m not coming in to take over the sport or put everyone out of business, including guys like Arum and De La Hoya, I think I could do a good job with it and I think I could do a good job.” In other words, no comment on whether he’s already had chats with Haymon.
And would he do co-promoting, with an Oscar? The 48 year old Las Vegas resident didn’t sound enthused about that concept, at all. “Crazier things have happened,” he said. “I’ll never work with Showtime again,” White said, when asked again about co-promoting.
My three cents: I’ve asked White about doing boxing promotion as far back as 2008. I noted his enthusiasm, his lunatic commitment to MMA, and figured the same intensity would do well in boxing, being that he was a “boxing guy” first. This I can promise you: not sure how White in boxing will play out for the fans, for the sport as a whole…but for media, it’s a no-brainer win.