Dana White hasn’t even put on his first WME-IMG boxing event as the primary promoter yet, and he’s already laying the groundwork for some difficult future relationships in the sport. While anyone who has followed White’s feuds with various figures in the boxing world could tell you that he wasn’t likely to be working with Bob Arum anytime soon, it comes as something of a surprise to hear that Showtime is out as well.
In a recent interview with Fight Hub TV, Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza gave his thoughts on the UFC’s intentions to start running boxing shows alongside their MMA cards. And at the time it seemed he was excited at the potential for another player in the game.
“I would welcome him into the sport, just like I would welcome anybody in who’s got the best intentions of doing good fights,” Espinoza said of Dana White’s interest in boxing. “If you want to do good fights and develop the sport, and he’s willing to work with other people, then welcome in. Happy to have him.”
Unfortunately, it’s that part about working “with other people” that may be the sticking point. Speaking to Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, White made it abundantly clear that he intends to never work with the network again. Most notably, he pointed to a December press release from the premium entertainment provider, that trumpeted Mayweather vs. McGregor as the second highest grossing PPV in history (h/t BadLeftHook).
“When we did the Mayweather fight and I watched and I took it all in, I just think all these guys... The guys who are promoting boxing today are bad at it,” White said of his drive to enter boxing promotion. “I don’t think they do a good job, and I could do better. It sounds arrogant, but it’s the truth. I think I could do a better job than these guys do.
“You know, think about this, and I don’t give a sh-t about Showtime’s f-ckin’ full-of-sh-t press release they put out. This is the biggest fight ever, ever! In combat sports history. The thing did over 6.7 million buys. And if the service didn’t drop, we would have got close to 7 million. Okay? It was the biggest event ever. It was the biggest boxing event ever, without a boxer. It was only one boxer involved in the fight.”
“The way that they handled that press release, and what they did?” White continued. “I didn’t trust them before, and now I despise those f-ckin’ guys, okay? The Showtime guys, I’ll never work with them again, ever.
“But anyway, I think we can do it a lot better. A lot better. I think that we can actually add something to the sport, I think that we can raise the level of the sport of boxing. So, I’m interested in doing it.”
As to exactly how the leader of the world’s largest MMA organization plans on overhauling the sport? White gave a few broad strokes of his vision for a WME-IMG led promotion, but didn’t offer too many extra details.
“HBO isn’t doing as much boxing as they have; none of the other guys are doing as much boxing as they have,” White said, explaining why boxers may be interested in a UFC-like model. “The deal... F-cking Arum likes to yap, but his deal isn’t great. His deal that he has isn’t a great deal. So, at the end of the day, over the next couple of years, how much money are these guys really going to be making? I believe that... And just because something’s been a certain way for so many years, doesn’t mean it isn’t broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed.
“And I know there’s guys at the top that make a lot of money, and then there’s guys at the bottom that don’t make anything. I could put together a system where all these mid-level guys are making good money, supporting their family, living in good homes, doing all that stuff. And the big guys make the big money. The money can be spread evenly. You gotta go out and get a real TV deal, not the Bob Arum TV deal. You gotta go out and get a real TV deal, and build the same structure that we built in the UFC. Bob Arum talks all this sh-t. Bob Arum is literally copying every f-cking thing that we’ve done, and regurgitating everything that I’ve said over the last 17 years.”
“He’s getting a lot of exposure, but for what?” White continued, speaking of Arum’s deal with ESPN and the recent Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux bout. “When you put on a fight and you actually draw in the numbers, and the f-cking guy quits because his knuckle hurts? You know what I mean? You’re doing the same bullsh-t where people are turning of the TV.
“You were at the Robbie Lawler fight, right!? The guy’s leg was destroyed, okay? Blew his ACL and meniscus and every other thing that’s in your knee out in, like, the third round. Wobbled over to the fence, laid against it, and asked Dos Anjos to come in so that they could just bang it out. Robbie Lawler went to the 5th round. And that’s one of the big problems that you have, these guys go on ESPN and tank. Do you think the people that showed up and bought tickets to that fight and left were happy with the performance?”
“I’m not blaming Arum,” White explained, backing off from the suggestion that the promoter was responsible for Rigondeaux throwing in the towel. “I’m not blaming Arum for that. There’s a lot of things I blame Arum for, so I’m definitely not blaming him for that. Once the fighters step in there, it’s out of your hands, it’s up to them. They have to carry the show. But that’s been a big problem with boxing. You know how many guys I’ve seen in my day that know they’ve got their paycheck and that’s it? And I have ideas to fix this stuff. I have ways to fix it.”
“Can I!? Can I!?” White exclaimed, misunderstanding Iole’s desire to hear his ideas as a question about his potential for success. “I don’t know. I’m not saying, ‘Oh I’m going to come in and I’m going to fix everything, and blah blah blah.’ I’m not saying that. I’m saying that I have ideas, I think that I could do it better, and I’m going to give it a shot.”