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UFC president Dana White reignites boxing promotion plans

53-year-old plotting launch in next 12 to 24 months.

20 March 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • White wants to make boxing “interesting again” and “build a brand around it”
  • Sport’s established promoters have been criticised for failing to agree big fights

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White is planning to launch a boxing promotion within the next 12 to 24 months.

The 53-year-old has been linked with a move into boxing for years and revealed to Sports Business Journal (SBJ) that he has been working for the last eight to nine months to put together a new promotion.

“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,” said White.

The UFC president also gave an update on his new Power Slap venture, stating that investors have been “blown away”. The league has completed its first season and drew major attention on social media, though it has been criticised for being overly violent and diverting White’s focus away from the UFC.

TBS was the linear media rights partner for Power Slap but opted not to renew its deal, with SBJ reporting the competition averaged ‘low to mid six figures per airing’. White, though, sounded undeterred, pointing to the league’s online presence.

“This thing has been a social media juggernaut for us – it has more followers now [on TikTok] than every NFL team except for the [Kansas City] Chiefs,” he said.

Power Slap had 2.6 million TikTok followers at the time of publication.

White also said he intends to expand Thrill One Sports & Entertainment, having been named a co-investor in the action sports entertainment company in June 2022 when it was acquired by Fiume Capital and Juggernaut Capital Partners.

SportsPro says…

White provided a broad update on various projects, but his boxing plans will arguably draw the most attention.

The promotion’s launch may be some way off but White’s success with the UFC means the new venture could provide serious competition to the boxing establishment. It may also help remedy a decentralised sport where top bouts often fail to materialise.

The frequent inability for boxing’s best to fight each other is in stark contrast to the UFC, which has all its fighters under one roof. Indeed, Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn, whose roster includes British heavyweight Anthony Joshua, previously admitted he was envious of the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion’s business model, though did reference criticism of its athlete pay model.

There is plenty of mystery still attached to White’s boxing project, including the potential involvement of UFC parent company Endeavor, which would provide extra financial clout. If White really wants to shake things up, he could make all the fighters centrally contracted, mirroring the UFC’s approach, and bypass major sanctioning bodies like the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

Trying to recreate the UFC’s formula in boxing may be difficult, such is the sport’s splintered state. But White has already demonstrated his ability to manufacture a commercial titan. If he is able to facilitate fights that boxing has been crying out for, its fans who have previously been dismissive of the UFC won’t complain.

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