UFC fans confined to white males, boxing’s Arum says

By Sergio Non, USA Today

MCLEAN, Va. — Boxing promoter Bob Arum still sees mixed martial arts as the province of young caucasian guys.

“It’s the same audience over and over,” Arum said Tuesday. “It’s white males, and they have never been able to expand their demographic.”

Arum and boxer Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday visited the Washington D.C. area, the final leg of a four-city trip to promote Pacquiao’s upcoming fight with Shane Mosley. The trip included a stop at USA TODAY’s headquarters in northern Virginia for a roundtable and interviews with journalists.

The roundtable included Arum and Pacquiao, along with USA TODAY’s Sergio Non and Scott Zucker. Most of the discussion focused on boxing, but it briefly turned to mixed martial arts:

Sergio Non: UFC just sold 50,000 tickets in Toronto, while boxing’s been having some trouble selling tickets lately — only 6,000 sold in Detroit for the Devon Alexander fight. What can boxing take marketing-wise from an up-and-coming combat sport like MMA?

Arum: Understand, nothing sells like a major boxing match. I can sell for a Manny Pacquiao fight, 100,000 seats easily, if I price them right.

We put this fight in Las Vegas, but the gate in Las Vegas will be one-and-a-half times more than it was in Texas, when he fought Clottey and we had 50,000 people. So the number of people that come to the match is not necessarily indicative of anything.

Comparing the event in Detroit, where (Timothy) Bradley fought Alexander, is really indicative of the fact that the event didn’t belong in Detroit. Neither fighter came from Detroit. Neither fighter was that well known. It was put in a building that has long functioned as a normal sporting arena.

In boxing, typically, fights not on the magnitude of big title fights with Pacquiao or Mayweather, generally draw 4,000 to 5,000 people. This goes back to the ’70s and ’80s.

 

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