Buckle up everyone, because Dana White is finally talking about fighter pay in boxing!
Speaking with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix about his plans for Zuffa Boxing, White shrugged off the notion that the UFC doesn’t pay its fighters well, and points out the wide disparity in pay for the top boxers compared to everyone else.
“There’s always this talk. You know we went through this talk for almost 20 years where, ‘oh you don’t pay your [UFC] fighters and boxers get more,’” White scoffed.
“The fighters get paid. Everybody gets paid. Everybody is being paid, and it’s not just the top 2-3. Everybody on the roster — I got over 600 guys that are getting paid and making a living and feeding their families and buying houses and cars and all these other things.”
“Now when you look at boxing, a handful of guys make crazy money, and that’s the way it’s always been built. And then you have thousands of people that don’t. So I think that we can create a pay system [in boxing] that benefits everybody,” White continued.
“There still fights out there where you just turn pro and guys are making $400 to fight. $100 per round and things like that. You got guys fighting for world titles for $10,000 and $15,000. That’s what I want to fix.”
White isn’t really wrong that some world title challengers don’t get much money and there’s a huge gap between what the top boxers make and what everyone else makes — check out John Nash’s breakdown of this — there are still plenty of boxers who are collecting considerable paydays. Just a quick glance, in no particular order, is a list of boxers who had at least a publicly disclosed (or reported from a reputable outlet) $1 million guarantee for a fight in 2019:
Errol Spence Jr
Leo Santa Cruz
Gary Russell Jr
That’s 27 boxers listed and only Pacquiao, Thurman, Broner, Spence, Garcia, Crawford, and Khan were in US pay-per-view main events this year. This obviously doesn’t include fighters such as Dillian Whyte, who likely made seven-figures for his UK PPV against Oscar Rivas. The likes of Luke Campbell, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Sergey Kovalev, and Luis Ortiz are expected to get seven-figure paychecks for their upcoming bouts, and presumably a fighter like former 154 lbs champion Jarrett Hurd already did but just never had it disclosed on a commission paysheet.
So it seems as if White wants to (above all else) tweak the low pay that affects the bottom-rung of boxing. I suppose we’ll know more about his grand visions when Zuffa Boxing launches in October.