There were precious little concrete plans to go off in that regard for quite some time. Yet some interesting developments have recently come to light. First, there was the announcement that UFC ownership was looking into purchasing Al Haymon’s PBC boxing stable. Their roster boasts some of the biggest names in the sweet science.
Then, the UFC debuted their new state-of-the-art Apex production facility this week. It’s a venue White called a massive game changer for all combat sports instead of just MMA. Case in point, plans were discussed for White’s son to box in an amateur event at Apex. Yet the longtime UFC President is obviously aiming much higher than that for his venture to boxing. He recently told MMA Fighting (via BJPenn.com) that the sport could be so much more than it is now:
“If you look at the way that it was in the 80s, 90s, even the early 2000s, you had [a few] guys that were [making money]. You had Floyd [Mayweather], you had [Manny] Pacquiao, [Oscar] Del La Hoya, maybe a couple other guys. But boxing as a whole, you’re talking about tons of fighters that weren’t making big money and weren’t in big fights. I think that the sport could be so much more.”
No Need For Big Stars In Boxing?
The UFC exec went on to explain that they don’t necessarily need huge names like a Mayweather or Pacquiao to sell tickets to UFC cards. The MMA leader will reportedly set a new record for tickets sold in 2019 according to White.
And they’re doing that with many events that don’t feature their biggest talents:
“If you look at what [the UFC has] built over the last 20 years, and our events, and how many events we’re doing — we’re doing 42 events a year. Every time you go to one of our events, they’re either sold out or they break the record for ticket sales. This year we’re going to break the record for ticket sales, ever, in UFC history. There are more tickets being sold this year than ever before in the history of the company. We continue to put on these fights, people come and see them.
“They’re on TV, free, they’re on ESPN, which everybody has. And we’re still doing million-dollar gates on these things without the Mayweathers and those types of fights.”
He closed by suggesting boxing could find success along a similar business model, but the current state of affairs would have to be broken and rebuilt:
“You could build a business [like that] with boxing — build a real business. You’ve just got to break it and rebuild it.”
Will White’s plans for boxing be as successful as he insists, or is the sport’s current model too entrenched to change so dramatically?