By Dan Rafael
September 13, 2008
LAS VEGAS -- Golden Boy Promotions, one of the leading boxing promotional companies in the world, is branching out into mixed martial arts, CEO Richard Schaefer announced Saturday at a news conference at the MGM Grand.
Golden Boy Promotions, which is promoting the Joel Casamayor-Juan Manuel Marquez lightweight title fight here on Saturday night, took a break from boxing to talk MMA in announcing a partnership with Affliction, a fledgling MMA promoter and apparel company known for its hip T-shirts.
"We have started looking at mixed martial arts and we finally decided to throw our hat into the mixed martial arts ring," Schaefer said. "I think there are some tremendous opportunities for crossover promotions and to team up with an iconic brand such as Affliction is a big step for us."
Golden Boy and Affliction will partner 50-50 on at least four pay-per-view shows next year that will include boxing matches and MMA fights on the same card. Smaller promoters have paired the two sports on cards, but never at the top level.
"We're looking to put together top MMA fighters as well as top boxers in one night. I think the two worlds have finally merged, and this is a perfect example," Affliction vice president Tom Atencio said.
Affliction, whose apparel is popular with many MMA fighters and boxers such as Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins, promoted its first MMA event July 19 in Anaheim, Calif. A second show was scheduled for Oct. 11 in Las Vegas but postponed because of lagging ticket sales.
The main event was supposed to be a heavyweight match between Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett with the winner expected to face Fedor Emelianenko.
When the card was called off, Golden Boy attempted to have Arlovski-Barnett rescheduled as part of the Oct. 18 Pavlik-Hopkins HBO PPV card. However, co-promoter Top Rank and HBO rejected the overture.
"They presented us with the option and we respectfully declined," HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet told ESPN.com.
As part of its deal with Golden Boy, Affliction will produce a line of event T-shirts for Golden Boy fights to sell at retail locations and at the fight. The first fight it will make shirts for is the Dec. 6 match between Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. In addition, Affliction will become the official apparel licensee for Ring Magazine, which Golden Boy bought last year. It unveiled several sample T-shirts featuring old covers of Ring magazine, including ones of Sugar Ray Robinson.