Report: Golden Boy, Affliction to Team for Boxing/MMA Cards

If you're a boxing fan who doesn't like mixed martial arts, you may not be thrilled with the news. Same goes if you like MMA but don't enjoy the sweet science (but then you're not likely to be reading this site either!). But Golden Boy Promotions and Affliction are betting there are enough fans who like both combat sports that putting them together will make sense - and dollars.

The AP reported Saturday that Oscar De La Hoya's company and the clothing manufacturer/fledgling MMA promoter will join forces to put boxing matches and MMA fights on the same shows. Initial plans call for at least four mixed cards in 2009.

Other outlets, including MMAWeekly.com, have also picked up the story. According to the AP, the deal also includes a merchandising element that will see Affliction shirts made featuring Golden Boy boxing matches and old Ring Magazine covers.

The amount of crossover between the two sports' audiences has been the subject of intense debate since the UFC helped MMA explode into the public consciousness earlier this decade. While the Golden Boy-Affliction alliance will help settle that question, a more pressing issue will be how the differences between two very different business models will be worked out.

With very little central organization and numerous promotional bodies, boxing succeeds or fails based on the individual athletes, with top stars earning disproportionately high shares of the purses. The UFC rose to prominence by putting the brand first and keeping a tight lease on fighter earnings, and even though Affliction is attempting a much more star-driven approach - especially in its dealings with heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko, who is slated to appear in January on what could be the first dual-promoted show - it's still going to take some compromise to marry the two disciplines.

Natural speculation will also arise regarding whether or not the deal will allow Affliction a sort of back door avenue to get its MMA programming increased television exposure. MMA industry experts have almost unanimously expressed doubts about the promotion's long term viability without a way to reach more viewers, and Golden Boy's connections could help it find a home somewhere like HBO.

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