UFC President Dana White said at a Tuesday gathering at Wild Card West boxing club in Santa Monica that he’s “getting into boxing, 100 percent,” and is in the process of attaining his promoter’s license.
White, who cashed in an estimated $400 million last year and kept his title when Beverly Hills talent agency WME/IMG purchased the UFC from majority owner Lorenzo Fertitta, agreed to remain in his UFC role for at least five years.
“No, no, no, I’m not leaving the UFC. I’m getting into boxing with [WME/IMG head] Ari [Emanuel] and the UFC will be doing boxing, too,” White told the Times.
“It’s still early. We’re still working on it. I’ve got to get my [stuff] together, but I’m getting into boxing, man. It’s coming.”
White piqued speculation that he was mulling a potential move to boxing by wearing a Zuffa Boxing T-shirt during the promotional tour for the Aug. 26 boxing match between UFC champion Conor McGregor and unbeaten boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In Tuesday’s conversation, White revisited his extended interest in boxing during a sit-down talk with powerful Hollywood producer/director Peter Berg, recalling how he quit his job as a Boston hotel bellman to go box, working menial jobs in gyms such as emptying spit buckets.
He was ultimately lured to mixed martial arts after moving to Las Vegas, convincing Fertitta to purchase the company in 2001 for $2 million. Fertitta cashed out last year for $4.025 billion.
One pursuit White could explore is dealing with powerful boxing manager Al Haymon, who has nearly 200 boxers in his stable and hires different promoters for certain fights. His Premier Boxing Champions lacks a powerful voice to promote its fighters, who include unbeaten heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and unbeaten welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
“Al and I haven’t talked about this at all. We’ll see who’s interested when I say, ‘Let’s do this,’” White said.
When told Haymon’s group could use White’s bombastic voice to further hype their careers, he said, “I agree.”
“It’s harder than saying we’re getting into boxing. We still have to get some homework done. I feel like I can do it better than everyone else. I love the sport.”
While White sorts out exactly what he’ll do, the venture could include famed seven-time boxing trainer of the year Freddie Roach in some capacity.
Roach accompanied White to Tuesday’s session after helping corner new middleweight UFC champion Georges St-Pierre on Saturday at UFC 217 in New York, and he praised White for a “stacked” card and “great” main event at Madison Square Garden.
“If you look at what we’ve done over the last 15 years, we’re not afraid to try new things,” White said.
White showed some of that shrewd promoter skill by also announcing he’s moving a planned Feb. 24 UFC card in Orlando to London to maximize the audience for Darren Till, who will fight welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a main event.