Boxing and mixed martial arts are the world's two most popular combat sports. Where some fans see them as rivals, the simple fact is that if you like fighting, you like both. However, MMA today has the vast majority of top fighters in the UFC, and they fight each other. Boxing by contrast in an alphabet soup full of nuts. Boxing sanctioning bodies only get paid when there is a title on the line. As a consequence, there are a lot of titles.
For men alone, the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO recognize 74 different world champions in 17 weight divisions; types include Super, Undisputed, Unified, Regular, and Interim. There are other sanctioning bodies as well, including the IBO and WBF, so the list of champions is incalculable.
On the plus side, boxing promoters have to bid for top talent, so the top fighters get paid more. If the UFC, ONE, Bellator, etc all could bid on a Conor McGregor fight, Notorious would make more, and in fact he did make more for his one boxing bout.
In August of last year, UFC president Dana White announced that he intended to launch ZUFFA Boxing by October, but during a recent interview with Kevin Iole, White appeared to throw in the towel, at least for the moment.
“I hate speaking negatively about the sport of boxing, other than the fact that it’s a mess – we all know it’s a mess – and that it needs to be fixed, if it can be fixed,” said White, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “I told you guys that I would have a press conference last October and announce all these things, but as I dove into this thing and started to look into the sport of boxing, the economics of boxing, that sport’s a mess. It’s a mess and it’s in big trouble. I don’t know. I don’t know if it can be fixed.”
White also has no intention to follow ONE and Bellator's lead, leveraging the UFC brand, holding multiple combat sports bouts in one show.
“I believe that when you put on a UFC event or a boxing event, all the focus and attention should be on that one event,” said White. “You start with the main event and then it trickles down into the card. There are some great fights that are lined up like, if you don’t know now you know. There’s a couple of fights in there that people might not actually know about that you focus on. And the same thing for a boxing match. When you go to an event, any event, you have to be focused on what’s happening on that card and excited about it. . . You can’t mix and mash all those things together. It just doesn’t work, in my opinion.”
“The other thing is, you bring out a certain group of fans for each thing too. There was a different group of people for Fury-Wilder than would be at Khabib vs. Tony. ... You’re gonna bring out different groups of people for different events. Like when we do PPVs, it’s not all the same buyers. For different fights, it’s different buyers. You have that general group, the hardcore fans that are gonna buy almost everything, and then different types of fights are gonna bring in different people.”