Dana White expresses doubt about boxing venture

March 25, 2020

Dana White has long teased that he was going to dive headlong into the deep waters of the boxing business. The UFC head promised a press conference last October to unveil his boxing operation. Yet October came and went. Then November, December, January … still nothing.

Now it appears he has cold feet.

In a video interview with Yahoo! Sports posted Tuesday, White was asked to comment on how he viewed the economic structure of boxing. He wasn’t so enthused.

“I hate speaking negatively about the sport of boxing,” White said, “other than the fact that it’s a mess – we all knows it’s a mess – and that it needs to be fixed, if it can be fixed.”

White continued: “I told you guys that I would have a press conference last October and announce all these things, but as I dove into this thing and started to look into the sport of boxing, the economics of boxing, that sport’s a mess. It’s a mess and it’s in big trouble. I don’t know. I don’t know if it can be fixed.”

What does White mean by “mess”? He didn’t say during the Yahoo! interview, but it doesn’t take a genius to grasp at least one of his objections.

As the largest mixed martial arts promotional group in the world, with nearly 600 fighters under exclusive contract, the UFC has considerable leverage when it comes to fighter compensation. The outfit signed a $1.5 billion broadcasting deal with ESPN in 2018. A few MMA experts, using publicly available financial documents, have estimated that UFC fighters take home anywhere from 13.6-16.3% of UFC’s total revenue in a given year.

The general consensus is that boxers do much better than that, which might be the reason for White’s reticence to wade in boxing waters. Promoter Bob Arum has been quoted in a recent UFC anti-trust suit as saying that his company Top Rank “pay[s] out 80%” of the revenue to fighters. According to Golden Boy’s financial documents that were brought to light during their anti-trust litigation against Premier Boxing Champions  (which was eventually rejected by the court), their fighter payout was 64% and 62% of total revenue in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

And it’s not a pattern that is likely to change anytime soon. In recent years, new players like the streaming platform DAZN have been doling out mind-numbing purses to fighters from all levels of the talent spectrum in an effort to bolster their presence in the market.

For White, who is accustomed to claiming the biggest piece of the pie, that’s a mess.

Original article: https://boxingjunkie.usatoday.com/2020/03/dana-white-expresses-doubts-about-boxing-venture

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