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Promoters give thoughts on the UFC’s plan to enter the ring: ‘Boxing is different’

Major figures around the industry have a varying reactions to the UFC’s tentative plans to promote boxing, but almost all of them warn that it’s a very different sport than MMA.

Back in October, Dana White started to talk about boxing again. But this time it wasn’t the latest round of fantasy, ‘which current UFC star could take out Floyd Mayweather Jr.?’ chatter (I still can’t believe they got McGregor into that bout). It was something different, something bolder. Something that, to a lot of MMA fans, sounds almost as much like a pipe dream as May-Mac initially did.

The UFC is looking at getting into boxing promotion.

And not just for some one-off mega-fight, but for the long term. Regularly promoted fight cards, featuring regular boxers, fighting under something resembling the UFC umbrella.

So, what does the boxing establishment think of the idea? Are they shaking in their boots? Are they slamming the doors on co-promotion? Far from it.

“I just want to wish them all the very best, good luck. And may they help the sport, may they enhance the sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, speaking to Fight Hub TV.

“But me, that would be great; if Dana White started promoting boxing, it would be terrific. Because it would show what we have now proven, that boxing is not an old man’s sport,” echoed Bob Arum.

And while that enthusiasm seems surprisingly pervasive. There were some notes of caution from promoters, even those enthusiastic for the opportunity to work with the UFC.

“Boxing definitely is a completely different sport than mixed martial arts,” cautioned K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler. “And UFC did a pretty good job of creating kind of a monopoly, where they could create their own ratings, they can create their own mandatories, their own titles. So unlike in boxing, they could actually force their fighters, or dictate to their fighters, who is gonna fight each other. And that is why you see a lot of exciting fights in the UFC.

“In boxing, there’s many different sanctioning bodies. Lotta different promoters that won’t work with each other, TV networks that won’t work with each other. So, now it’s a lot more fractured. And as a lot of people have experienced: A lot of people like to go into the sport of boxing, but then they get frustrated, because there is a lot of politics and it’s hard to put on the best shows, unless you’re working with a lot of other promoters. We’ll have to see what direction [Dana White] goes into.”

In fact, up until their co-promotion with Floyd Mayweather’s ‘Money Team’ for Mayweather vs. McGregor, cooperation between the UFC and other promotions has been something the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization has been famously resistant to.

Most notably, a potential deal with Fedor Emelianenko was reportedly – at least in part – scrapped by the UFC’s unwillingness to co-promote the Russian star’s bouts. Whether that kind of reluctance holds true in the boxing world remains to be seen.