LAS VEGAS – The mixed martial arts world, particularly those involved with the UFC, are declaring victory over boxing.
The UFC has had fighters on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine in the last two weeks. Its ticket sales generally dwarf those of boxing matches and its television ratings attract the young male demographic that boxing lost long ago.
UFC president Dana White has long been critical of the way boxing runs itself and blames promoters such as Bob Arum, Don King and Oscar De La Hoya for the sport's problems.
Arum and his stepson, Top Rank president Todd duBoef, however, fired back at White in the start of what could become a full-blown feud.
White said Arum and King, both members of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, were "sucking the life out of the sport and not putting anything back in."
White added De La Hoya to the mix, criticizing him for his promotion of his May 5 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. That bout did a record 2.15 million pay-per-view sales and generated over $150 million in revenue, but White said the weak undercard was an example of the lack of commitment to the sport by boxing promoters.
"He promoted that show completely the wrong way, because he worried about the money as opposed to trying to secure the future," White said. "He should have stacked that card. He should have had Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins and (Marco Antonio) Barrera and Winky Wright on there and used it to show that boxing is back.
"But he didn't do that. He went for the money. That's the difference between us and these boxing promoters. We care about the sport and the sport's future and they care about making as much money as they can."
Arum suggested MMA fighters take a close look at the revenues being generated and ask why the UFC isn't cutting them in on more.
The UFC has been criticized for how much it pays its fighters, but White keeps salary information as private as he can. Though the contracts submitted to the state athletic commission for top fighters like light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell may show a base pay of $250,000, plus a similar bonus for winning, White said his stars are paid significantly more than that.
To date, few UFC fighters have complained publicly about their pay.
But Arum said it's because they aren't aware of what they're making relative to what Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, makes.
"They should ask what percentage of revenue from each event he pays them," Arum said. "If you look at the amount and percentage King and I pay, it doesn't compare. His guys get $250,000, if they're lucky. All told, they may get 10, 15 percent of the revenues generated, while boxers get 80.
"When you're talking net revenue, boxers get as much as 92 percent. If I'm promoting a big show and I keep my talent to 92 percent of my net, I'm doing well."
Richard Schaefer, the CEO of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, agreed with Arum. He said if a boxing promoter only paid the fighters on a card 10 percent of the revenue, it would be front-page news around the world.
He said it is only a matter of time before the athletes in the UFC begin to question their pay.
"What they're paying these athletes is a disgrace," Schaefer said. "The public is coming to see the athletes and they're what make the UFC what it is. It's the athletes, not Dana White. "It's only a matter of time before the athletes figure out that they're being ripped off and demand they be paid more than 10 percent."
DuBoef said White should be appreciative that Arum and King paved the way for him to do fights on pay-per-view.
"I'm going to call Dana, because I need to educate him," duBoef said. "His comments are incredibly na