Affliction, Golden Boy Join Forces

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LAS VEGAS -- Popular clothing company Affliction and its mixed martial arts promotion might not be dying on the vine, as UFC President Dana White claimed. The apparel giant canceled its planned Oct. 11 card in Las Vegas, and rumors swirled that Affliction might be another one-and-done MMA promotion.

Affliction announced on Saturday a blockbuster partnership with powerful boxing company Golden Boy Promotions. Golden Boy, created by superstar and future Hall of Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya, is arguably the leading promotional firm in boxing, and its partnership with Affliction, also a fledgling MMA promoter, is significant for both MMA and boxing.

Golden Boy purchased ?The Ring Magazine,? the world?s longest-running boxing periodical, and its ancillary publications last year and just recently scooped up the United States? only amateur pugilism program -- USA Boxing. Now it appears poised to help make MMA even bigger using a somewhat risky endeavor with Affliction.

?Since our acquisition of ?The Ring? last year, we were looking to find ways to bring the younger audience to the magazine, as well as to boxing,? said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. ?Affliction, which really is an iconic brand, has captured that younger audience, and so we?ve been sitting down with the owners of Affliction and trying to find ways to cross promote the two sports. It?s great for the fighters; it?s great for both sports.?

Golden Boy has become the new guard in boxing, and its promotional and marketing ideas have changed the approach to how the sport should be handled. Always willing to try new ideas in an effort to grow its already superfluous stable of elite talent, Golden Boy?s partnership with Affliction does not come as much of a surprise. Considering that De La Hoya, his public relations staff and Schaefer have hinted to on numerous occasions that promoting MMA was ?a possibility,? it was a matter of when, not if it would happen.

?We?ve been looking into mixed martial arts for some time now,? Schaefer said. ?I?ve been studying and following it and have educated myself about it, and we finally decided to throw our hat into the mixed martial arts ring.?

What?s even more intriguing is the fact that Golden Boy does not plan to branch out and create a separate entity solely for MMA shows. Instead, its goal is to assemble massive pay-per-view events that will integrate both boxing and MMA in one night in the same ring. Though neither Schaefer nor Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio commented on potential blockbuster cards, the notion of a fight night featuring boxers the caliber of Bernard Hopkins and Joel Casamayora, along with world-class mixed martial artists like Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko is no longer far-fetched.

Atencio was as enthused as anyone about the partnership.

?Golden Boy is the top promoter in the industry in the world,? he said. ?They think outside the box, and this is just another example of what they do. We?re going to bring top MMA fighters and top boxers together in one night. This is a great partnership, alongside our partnership with M-1 Global and Fedor, and this just brings another level to MMA. I think the two worlds have finally merged.?

Questions surround how exactly the two powerhouses will pull off their inaugural event, let alone the four they have planned in 2009. Atencio had some ideas but opted to leave those decisions to the experts.

?I think with Golden Boy, we?re going to leave that up to them,? Atencio told ?They have the expertise. They?ll do all the production side of everything, and we?ll do what we do as far as MMA goes, like matchmaking. [Golden Boy] will do the matchmaking with boxing. [Pulling it off] is something we have to sit down with Golden Boy and talk about. I know some of the events in the past that have done this, or tried to do this, have either done one MMA match with all boxing or all mixed martial arts with only one boxing [match]. Quite honestly, I don?t know what we?re going to do.?

Atencio said the debut event under the new ?strategic partnership? will come in the first quarter of 2009, and though he said the date for the show remains up in the air, he said it will most likely fall in January. He also said that the Oct. 11 card from Las Vegas was postponed because of the pending partnership, and the card, or least some of the match-ups from it, could fill out the MMA portion of the first event. Atencio made it clear that the premiere was too far out to state who would be competing. A location was not revealed, either, but Las Vegas and southern California have emerged as logical locales.

Another crucial element to the partnership with Golden Boy and Affliction is the fact that De La Hoya?s lucrative company has a solid business relationship with cable giant HBO, as the vast majority of its fight cards land on that station. Atencio was excited about the potential for his brand of MMA to appear on the world?s leading movie network but was hesitant to speak out of turn or make erroneous declarations.

?Hopefully,? he said with a broad grin. ?That?s up to Golden Boy once again. They are the ones who have the relationship with HBO, and if they can bring it to the table, then absolutely.?

Landing events on a network that has brought fight fans some of the greatest boxing matches in history would be significant. But why did Atencio and his team decide on Golden Boy and not another of the world?s powerful boxing promoters? Golden Boy is smart, young and has shown an ability to capture the attention of boxing fans.

?They?re very creative, and they?re always looking at new ideas. And so are we,? said Atencio, who estimates the deal took eight months to be finalized. ?Looking at both of our companies, it just made sense for us to come together.?

Atencio also revealed his plans to continue promoting separate all-MMA shows under the Affliction flag and reinforced his promotion?s partnership with M-1 Global. He was not sure when the next all-MMA show would be promoted, but the eager entrepreneur hopes to have a few shows sandwiched in between the major pay-per-view events with Golden Boy.

Another key aspect of the partnership between Affliction and Golden Boy will have the apparel company create event-specific T-shirts for Golden Boy?s major PPV shows, beginning with the mammoth showdown between De La Hoya and Filipino whirlwind Manny Pacquiao in December. Affliction is also going to create a plethora of boxing-related shirts sporting vintage ?The Ring Magazine? covers featuring the likes of Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey and others, which will be available in the 20,000-plus retail outlets where Affliction clothing is sold.

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Dana might need to start eating his words. Perhaps Affliction will still be around at the start of 2009, which certainly puts a dent in his rumoured plans for a Randy vs Fedor Superbowl weekend PPV fight.

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Dana might need to start eating his words. Perhaps Affliction will still be around at the start of 2009, which certainly puts a dent in his rumoured plans for a Randy vs Fedor Superbowl weekend PPV fight.

I seriously don't think that fight will happen now, Randy will lose to Lesnar and he will just retire.

Its good tho for the mma business to have a few federations running.

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^ you actually think lesnar has a chance?

Well I seem to be in a minority when I saw Lesnar is going to lose, but really looking at it he should win but who knows.

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