By Jaime C. Feal
A big problem with today’s fight fans is that a love for boxing tends to decrease respect and interest in MMA, and vice versa. The search for which combat sport is better overshadows the fact both are great, exciting sports. It is easy to forget that UFC president Dana White, who oversees the leading mixed martial arts promotion in the world, used to be an amateur boxing manager and promoter in South Boston. With his new reality television show centered around the South Boston boxing scene, White attempts to re-invigorate interest in his hometown’s boxing scene, and he certainly has the blueprint, financial capital, and experience to make this a successful foray.
Dana White is the executive producer on the show, teaming up with the executive producer of “The Ultimate Fighter” Craig Piligian as well. Early indications are that “The Fighters” will air on the Discovery channel in 2014. The move by White is an extremely positive one for the sport of boxing, particularly in the Boston area. While White could choose to be an elitist, focusing his financial resources on the growing sport of MMA, he instead has chosen to give back to his home community and first love of Boxing.
The show appears to be centered around amateur fighters, which is similar to the format employed by “The Ultimate Fighter” in that contestants lack professional experience but possess tons of heart, determination, and often times raw talent. It is not entirely clear if this new reality TV show “The Fighters” will be a tournament-style format, a documentary, or a hybrid of the two. Nevertheless, it is an admirable venture Dana White is embarking on to grow the sport of boxing.
Those quick to write off the show as a celebrity-endorsed gimmick need to look no further than Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard’s “The Contender.” That enormously popular reality TV show garnered many views, spawned a few sequels, and elevated the profile of boxers Peter Manfredo Jr. and Sakio Bika. Here’s hoping that “The Fighters” brings boxing back into the limelight, proving that exciting fights happen at all levels in boxing, even in a local South Boston gym.