By Keith Idec
Bob Arum isn’t surprised UFC president Dana White keeps discussing his eventual involvement in boxing.
The 85-year-old boxing promoter believes White wants to work in boxing out of necessity, not intrigue. The UFC isn’t what it once was, according to Arum, and promoting boxing is White’s way of exploring another revenue stream for the company, which was purchased for $4 billion in a deal announced in July.
“It’s something that I think they’ll really do because the MMA business is falling apart,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “Their pay-per-view numbers are in the toilet and they’re giving away tickets. The fight in The Garden [Saturday night didn’t] sell tickets. I think the bloom is off the rose, as far as MMA is concerned. One of the reasons probably is they lost all their marquee guys and it looks like the same old, same old. It doesn’t have the buzz and it doesn’t have the interest that it had. And so Dana is looking maybe to change the equation by going and doing some boxing.”
Arum, White’s longtime verbal sparring partner, knows White isn’t just talking about promoting boxing because a prominent person involved in UFC arrived at Arum’s office in Las Vegas one morning late last year and made a pitch for UFC to buy Top Rank Inc., Arum’s company.
“That’s the reason I think he’s serious,” Arum said. “A while ago, someone representing the UFC came to my office, looking to buy Top Rank. It clearly happened. They figured we would put boxing on under their umbrella. But at that point, we were working hard to do our deal with ESPN, and we certainly weren’t interested in selling the company.”
Top Rank’s next ESPN show is scheduled for Saturday night at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
In the main event, area hero Jose Ramirez (20-0, 15 KOs), a 2012 Olympian from nearby Avenal, will battle unbeaten southpaw Mike Reed (23-0, 12 KOs), of Waldorf, Maryland, in a 10-round junior welterweight fight. The telecast also will include Russia’s Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs), who’ll meet Germany’s Enrico Koelling (23-1, 6 KOs) in a 12-rounder for the vacant IBF light heavyweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.