We are almost two years removed from UFC president Dana White announcing his intentions to get into the boxing business. So far nothing has really happened, but that could soon change in a major way.
“Rumors are true,” Coppinger wrote. “Al [Haymon] held several meetings with Ari Emanuel about a potential deal where Al would still be majorly involved the same way Dana [White] is with UFC following that deal with Endeavor. There’s a ton more to write about this; something I’ll cover in the coming weeks with a full-length story on the site.”
This might be that big boxing move White hinted that he would make “after the summer.”
PBC launched in 2015, with a roster of more than 200 boxers and backed by (the now mostly squandered) hundreds of millions of dollars in investment money to help fund and advertise themselves as a game-changer for the sport of boxing. In search of a television deal, they signed a series of time-buy deals with ESPN, CBS, FOX, NBC, and others. This largely failed in the short-term; poor ratings, inactive fighters, questionable matchmaking, and planned event dates falling through (among other things) led to genuine concern that they would falter by the end of 2016. In the long-term, they have indeed managed multi-year agreements with FOX and Showtime, and they essentially now own boxing’s pay-per-view market.
The PBC stable notably boasts WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight king Andy Ruiz, IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr, WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, and WBA super-featherweight champion Gervonta Davis. Technically speaking, none of these fighters is contractually tied to FOX and/or Showtime (as evidenced by Ruiz fighting Joshua on DAZN), and several of them do not have promotional contracts. What is pretty evident is that the top names (and several of the lesser names or faded stars) get handsomely paid whether they’re on pay-per-view or not.
Of course, we don’t know how big the ramifications could be. PBC is the brand/promotion but they’re not officially listed as a promoter. Haymon launched PBC and is an “adviser” and “manager,” but he can’t be a promoter unless he wants to violate the Ali Act (something Golden Boy alleged he’s already done in their (ultimately dismissed) lawsuit against him). White’s own grand visions for Zuffa Boxing include not working with sanctioning bodies, which is completely impractical within the confines of the regulations in the sport.
There are many questions that we will presumably know the answer to very shortly, but if this does go through, it is a huge moment for combat sports that one of the major players in boxing is going to be owned by the same company that owns the premier MMA organization.