The more we hear about the Affliction/Golden Boy partnership, the stranger it begins to sound. First there was the official press release, which seemed to put more emphasis on “signature shirts” and apparel than on fights. It’s almost as if Affliction is looking for a way to retreat with dignity from the money-sucking void of fight promotion and get back to what they do best: selling overpriced, hyper-stylized clothing.
But aside from their own line of skull-themed t-shirts, what does Golden Boy get out of it? According to CEO Richard Schaefer, they hope to siphon off some of MMA’s young fan base and bring them back into the boxing fold:
“We believe Affliction and the relationships they have with that demographic, the identification they have within that demographic group I think will help bring boxing to these people,” said the Golden Boy CEO. “We think as well, many of the mixed martial arts fans are fans of combat sports, and what they’ve seen of boxing is a very exciting sport as well that maybe they will discover their love for the sport of boxing.”
Naturally, Affliction VP Tom Atencio hopes for the same thing in the other direction, which should tell Golden Boy something (as should those Vegas ticket sales) about just how much of an MMA fan base they may have to draw from. But in theory, at least, it sounds like an idea that can work. That is, if you get the right fights in front of the right audiences. Already things are off to a slow start.
ESPN.com reports that Golden Boy tried to sell HBO on the idea of adding the original “Day of Reckoning” main event — Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett — to the Oct. 18 pay-per-view boxing bout between Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins. HBO “respectfully declined.”
That leaves Affliction and Golden Boy going it alone, albeit together. Their stated plan is to stage four boxing/MMA hybrid pay-per-view events in 2009, splitting the revenue 50/50 between them. But in order for that to prove worthwhile, Affliction needs to show that its brand of MMA can pull a significant share of MMA fans, and Golden Boy has to be ready to offer up some of its big name boxers to help.
Then, of course, we have to start asking what the billing on these cards will actually look like. Bringing in boxers means Affliction needs fewer of its own MMA fighters per show. Judging by the reaction from several of the guys slated for the Oct. 11 show, this is making some fighters in the Affliction stable a tad bit nervous.
“It took the wind out of my sails, man. …“I’m just crossing my fingers [that I’ll be on the January card],” Buentello said. “So we’ll see what pans out.”
Sources tell CagePotato.com that Josh Barnett is similarly displeased with the idea of being pushed off the main event — or even the card itself — by this new development.
As of right now, no one seems entirely sure what the first Affliction/Golden Boy card will even look like. Hopefully that’s something they’ll clear up shortly, if for no other reason than to let their fighters know exactly what the hell is going on. Affliction COO Michael Cohen spoke of an impending Trump Towers press conference, and it might be the perfect opportunity to lay out some sort of plan for the future, assuming such a plan really exists.