Is a Dana White/Anthony Joshua pact in the works?
He’s taking his sweet time getting his boxing thing together but he has that luxury because his main entity is humming along.
Dana White’s name pops up once a month or so, for the last six months, regarding his foray into the boxing sphere. The Boston-bred dealmaker, who makes Las Vegas home while he oversees UFC, the mixed martial arts organization he was instrumental in making a big league outfit, after it had floundered as a total niche entity in the late-1990s, said, last year, he was going to enter the boxing fray. He’d be rivaling the Bob Arums and Oscar De La Hoyas; it was clear, as he’d not want to pop in and be a second-tier player. To that end, the rumor du jour is that White will make a play for Anthony Joshua, the unbeaten IBF/WBA heavyweight titlist, who is standout sportsman the UK.
AJ was asked about this bit of news on a conference call, which went down Wednesday, to hype his March 31 defense against fellow beltholder Joseph Parker. The fight will unspool in Cardiff, Wales, and screen on Showtime.
So would you be open to doing a deal with UFC and White, despite the fact you already have a promoter, in Eddie Hearn, he was asked.
“Oh yeah, a hundred percent,” said the 28-year-old Joshua (20-0, 20 knockouts). “I’m interested because we can all work together. Mine and Eddie’s relationship is a really good working relationship. I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White. If it’s good business, it makes sense. I’m not into business. I’m sure Eddie’s not going to say, ‘Dana White, we’re not interested in working with you,’ when we don’t know what’s on the table. We’ll listen and, a hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all in. I’m happy that Dana White is coming into the game and hopefully he can add some excitement, progress forward, make some good money and make some good fights.”
Hearn was asked how he feels about a possible rival looking to encroach on his territory.
Said Hearn, “No, I saw it and Gareth (Davies) spoke to me about it today. If Dana White wants to speak to us, obviously Anthony’s with us. We’re willing to talk to anybody and we do great business with everyone. We work with anyone, if the business is right. In the meantime, I’ll sign (UFC lightweight champion) Conor McGregor and it’ll be fair.”
Hearn’s quip about McGregor adds some flavor, which makes his level of happiness with this possible developement quite clear. And I say “possible” because AJ is contracted to Hearn. How long the terms are, I don’t know but White would have to work around that. And frankly I’m not sure how such legalities are handled over there but, over here, this sort of story would be in poor form and be considered a step toward poaching and encroachment. I think, one reason Eddie wouldn’t come back blazing at Dana is if his contract with Joshua is almost up.
I sent Hearn an email asking about this reasoning and why this White offer to come isn’t being met with a lawyer’s letter, rather than a quip and an agreement to listen to an offer. I will insert a response if and when it arrives.
My three cents: I do also wonder if this is a calm before a storm and we aren’t going to see a major shake-up and power-play moves from a few people soon. The money pot for an AJ vs. Deontay Wilder pot would and will be considerable. It feels like HBO has been angling to try and shove Showtime aside and make moves that would indicate they think they have a shot at getting Joshua fights. What say you, readers? Thoughts on how this all will play out?
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