LAST October UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] President Dana White was about to launch his boxing project, Zuffa Boxing, only to take a closer look at the state of the sport and ultimately decide against it.
Whether best to call it a delay or full-on withdrawal remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: boxing wasn’t quite the land of opportunity White presumed it to be.
“I hate speaking negatively about the sport of boxing, other than it’s a mess,” White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. “We all know it’s a mess and it needs to be fixed, if it can be fixed. I told you guys 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 if it can be fixed.”
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the same can be said for all combat sports and, indeed, all sports and industries at this uncertain time. Yet it is interesting nonetheless to hear White, a man who built the UFC from essentially nothing, claim to see beyond the big names and big pay-per-view events and expose boxing’s shoddy scaffolding, its fragile infrastructure, for what it really is.
You don’t need me to tell you the trilogy fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder won’t be taking place on July 18 as originally planned.
With coronavirus taking control of the world, with Las Vegas on lockdown, and with neither fighter unable to properly train, that date has been scrapped, which means the waiting game now begins. At best, Bob Arum, the fight’s promoter, says the fight could find a new date in October, but even of that he can’t be certain.
“Clearly not,” Arum told ESPN when asked if July 18 was still possible for Fury vs. Wilder III. “We don’t even know if the MGM will even be open by then. You could not guarantee the fighters that the event would take place on that date. We couldn’t convince them or ourselves.
“Where were they going to train for it? It just made no sense. You just have to take a step back. How are you going to sell tickets? It’s absolutely ridiculous to say the fight is on when the Brits can’t even get there.
“Everybody has to take a step back. Boxing is not isolated. It’s part of what’s happening in the world. So possibly the fight will be in early October.”
Possibly is a good word. Perhaps the only word worth using at this moment in time.