Tom Atencio. Photo by Esther Lin/CombatLifestyle.com.
When Affliction Entertainment announced a formal partnership with Golden Boy Promotions, one of boxing’s premiere promotional companies, last month, the original thought was that Affliction’s re-scheduled January 24 show would feature both mixed martial arts and boxing matches on the fight card.
Then came the revelation that the show would be MMA-only, fueling speculation that Oscar De La Hoya and company may have had their differences about holding a duel event. It turns out that’s exactly what happened.
From Dan Rafael’s ESPN boxing notebook:
In September, Golden Boy announced with fanfare a deal with fledgling MMA promoter and apparel company Affliction under which it would co-promote pay-per-view events with boxing and MMA matches on the same card. But Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that they’ve had a change of heart and will keep the sports separate. The companies are planning their first MMA-only co-promotion in January.
The idea of both sports on the same card was heavily criticized, which Schaefer acknowledged was part of the decision. “We want to get to know the MMA market better and truly evaluate if there are synergies between the two sports,” he said. “We are planning to do some focus groups where we will ask boxing and MMA fans how they would feel about it. Once we get the results of that, then we’ll be in a much better position to decide which strategy to apply.”
In my opinion, these “focus groups” are going to be a waste of time. The boxing purists are going to say no, the hardcore MMA fans won’t want to see boxing and their sport together, and those in the middle won’t care either way. If Golden Boy and Affliction can put together two separate main events involving fighters that casual fans know very well, the partnership will be a huge success. Anything less won’t achieve a lot.
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