UFC president Dana White has long talked about launching his own boxing promotion and it appears he’s going after one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport as his first priority.
On Sunday, White confirmed that he had held talks with boxing champion Mikey Garcia (38-0) about competing under the Zuffa Boxing brand.
Garcia, who doesn’t have a promoter, had previously said that he met with White in early May to discuss the possibility of working together. White says he’s definitely interested in working with Garcia, but they just haven’t had the time to iron out any kind of details about a potential deal.
“That is true and Mikey and I have got together a few times and I like him a lot and he likes us a lot and we’ll see what happens,” White said during the UFC Liverpool post fight press conference.
“I’ve obviously been crazy busy on this television deal. The clock was ticking. We were down to like seven months until we move from FOX to ESPN so that was a huge priority, we had to get that thing done and that will free up some time for me to focus on other stuff that I want to do.”
Garcia is next scheduled to fight in July and White hasn’t set a specific timeline on when he’d like to launch Zuffa Boxing but obviously it seems like the 30-year old California native would be a major target for acquisition.
While that deal is ongoing, White also confirmed rumors that he was interested in pursuing a deal with British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua as well but they never had the chance to meet.
Joshua (21-0) is widely considered one of the most thrilling fighters in the sport with star potential and White says he hoped to build on his current fame in England by bringing him to the United States.
Joshua has never fought outside of England in his professional career but he has pulled him huge numbers in live attendance every time he fights at home.
“The deal was that I felt that we could add a lot of value for them in the United States,” White said when addressing the Joshua situation. “So we could cut a deal for the U.S. He’s big in England, everybody knows who he is in England and I have the machine to make him big in the United States. That was the plan.”
Eddie Hearn, who serves as Joshua’s promoter, then inked a deal worth over a billion dollars in the U.S. with DAZN — a streaming service currently headed up by former ESPN president John Skipper.
White says he was never trying to steal Joshua away from Hearn but instead he wanted to work with both of them to help build the heavyweight champion’s exposure in the United States.
Unfortunately that deal never came to fruition after White was unable to find a time to meet with Joshua and his team.
“The last couple months I’ve had some bad health issues with my ear so I was dealing with that and that’s why I couldn’t make the flight over to England that time,” White explained. “I was talking to them and then Eddie Hearn ended up landing that big TV deal. That’s great for the sport of boxing. It’s great for him. I’m not looking to come in and steal anybody. I’m another guy who can offer some money and if anything it’s great for the boxers.
“I’ve said many times I think that [Anthony Joshua] is the most marketable guy in the world, good looking kid, big strong guy and Eddie Hearn handled his business and got him straight so it’s all good. I’m not out there trying to steal anybody from anyone.”