By Allan Fox: UFC president Dan White took a big shot at boxing this week during an interview. According to White, the promoters aren’t investing boxing, and he sees the sport as being in serious trouble. In the meantime, UFC, the company he runs, is doing well in bringing in huge ratings.
White feels that the matches are put together in a way where it’s a “going out of business” type approach.
Although Dana didn’t use an example, you can argue Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Conor McGregor was that type of match. It was a fight brought in huge PPV numbers, but it left boxing and MMA fans feeling like they’d been ripped off because it wasn’t even remotely competitive. It was never meant to be. That’s just one example. Mayweather and McGregor were able to build their fight exceptionally well, and unfortunately, it was such a poor one that it turned off fans.
Dana discusses what’s wrong with boxing
“I could give 1,000 reasons why boxing is in trouble. I’ve been saying for 20 years, and now we’re getting to the point where it’s really bad, it’s in big trouble,” said UFC president White. “The number reason is that these promoters that have been doing this for 30 to 40 years never invested money back into it.
“Every boxing match that goes on is a ‘going out of business’ sale. ‘Let’s get as much money as we can from these people and get the f*** out of town.’ That’s a boxing match, and that’s not how you run a business and it’s not how you build the sport. That’s not how you create longevity in the sport,” said White.
It’s hard not to agree with some of what White is saying because one does get the impression that many fights are intended to be competitive. The promoters work hard in promoting mismatched fights, and the casual boxing fans that buy the battles with their hard-earned money aren’t knowledgable enough about the sport to steer clear of these events.
The promoters hyping too many non-competitive fights
When you get a fight that you know will be a mismatch, it’s sad to see how the promoters heavily hype it. If this were the NFL, it would be like a 16-0 Super Bowl team playing a 4-12 cellar-dweller, and there was all this phony hype about it. If the networks and the teams got everyone excited about that type of game, fans would be furious when it turned out to be a complete blowout with the better team winning.
Thankfully, you don’t see that in the NFL. There’s not a lot of hype when a great team faces a weak one, but in boxing, it’s different. The promoters faithfully do their job of peddling the fight like a used car salesperson would be pushing a lemon on an unsuspecting buyer.
Sanctioning bodies hurt boxing
The sanctioning bodies hurt the sport and ranking fighters with minimal talent, and that shouldn’t be ranked anywhere near the top. It’s unclear why the sanctioning bodies give high rankings to mediocre fighters, but they do it all the time. What’s worse is that the champions are ordered to fight their mandatory challengers, who have no business fighting for a world title.
You end up with a mandatory challenger with little talent and no fan challenging for a world title. The result of that is a mismatch that isn’t seen by a lot of people. The fans that do pay to see the mismatches get tired of it, and stop following the sport or stop ordering the fights.
Ways of improving the sport:
- Do away with sanctioning bodies.
- Force promoters to match their fighters against the best
- No more ‘other side of the pond’ excuses
- Grade the judges and booth them if they’re poor
The combination of the rankings done by the sanctioning bodies and the ultra-careful match-making done by some of the promoters has hurt boxing. One of fixing that would be to do away with all of the sanctioning bodies and to have one organization that ranks the fighters. If one organization ranked the fighters and ordered the fights in a logical way that made sense to the fans, it would help the sport.
At this point, it might not be possible to do away with the sanctioning bodies because they’re so ingrained in the sport. It would be almost impossible to force them out, but it would help if they were replaced by one ranking organization.
As long as whatever takes the place of the governing bodies ranks fighters in a way that made sense to boxing fans, it would help the sport.
The bottom line is the best needs to fight the best, and that’s not happening now. It used to in the 1960s and 1970s, but not anymore. You get too many fighters that are protected and don’t face quality opposition until it finally forced on them.
UFC, but you’re not getting that in boxing. The promoters protect their fighters like their investments, and you rarely see the top guys fighting each other unless one of them gets old. An example of that is Canelo Alvarez fighting Gennady Golovkin.
Dana White invests in his company
“If you look at things from the headquarters to the PI to the Apex and what we’re doing in China and all these other places around the world, those are all investments in the sport,” White said. “So we invest in the sport.
“The contender series is an investment in the athletes: the Ultimate Fighter, The Contender. Kids come off this show; I was in the war room today—Yusif’s first fight. Yusif, when he fought in The Contender series, is up to 6.6 million viewers. 6.6 million people saw his first fight in The Contender series. O’Malley is at 5 point something million.
“The list goes on and on. The lowest number from the first season of The Contender series is like 797,000 viewers. These are these kids’ first fight before they’re ever in the UFC. I say their first fight before the UFC. But with that many people watch your first fight before you’re even in the UFC, it’s big for these kids,” said White.