Dana White won’t rule out promoting boxing, hypes new reality show

The UFC president says he's all in with his new boxing reality show The Fighters, which premieres this week on Discovery Channel.

The Fighters / Discovery Channel

Dana White is dipping his toe into the boxing scene, and he promises that his new reality show is nowhere near just a side project. He’s serious about it.

“I’m in,” the UFC president told FOX Sports in a recent interview. “I don’t do anything half-assed. I want to win. I want this thing to be great.”

“This thing” is "The Fighters," an eight-part boxing series featuring up-and-coming toughs from South Boston that premieres Thursday (9 p.m. ET) on Discovery Channel. Certainly, White knows all about the scene — he was a boxing trainer in the area before he made it big as the face of the UFC MMA organization.

Despite the failings of previous boxing reality shows The Contender and The Next Great Champ, White is confident The Fighters can succeed — and transform boxing’s image in the process.

White and co-creator Craig Piligian, the mastermind behind "The Ultimate Fighter," have discussed this type of series for a while. White, 44, was interested in giving back to the sport he grew up in, which is why he also enlisted the help of well-known Boston trainer Peter Welch.

“If it wasn’t for Peter and the sport of boxing, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” White said.

“The Fighters” will feature boxing matches every episode with a tournament format, not unlike the contestants on "The Ultimate Fighter." But White said the biggest difference is that this Discovery show is “more character-driven.” White has always said TUF is about the fights; "The Fighters" will be more about the personalities in the rough-and-tumble Southie neighborhood.

“There is nothing but f**king characters in boxing,” White said. "… Boston is an exciting place for this. The accent alone speaks boxing. It’s a very unique, interesting world and this is a look into it.”

I don’t want to see the sport of boxing die. This is my contribution to the sport I love.

White sounds excited about getting back into the sweet science. Does that mean he could be promoting boxing events some time soon, too? He wouldn’t rule it out.

“I’ve always got the boxing itch,” White said. “I’m a boxing guy at heart. I’m always going to be that guy. How deep would I get? Let’s see how far this thing goes.”

Boxing’s trouble in recent years is building a secondary group of stars. After the Floyd Mayweathers and Manny Pacquiaos of the world, there aren’t many major draws. When the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC and White became president, one of the first things they did was look at how boxing did things — and then they did the complete opposite.

White knows all about the Boston boxing scene — he was a trainer in the area before he made it big as the face of the UFC.

White said he could change that perception with “The Fighters,” to succeed where the other boxing reality shows — "The Contender" and "The Next Great Champ" — failed.

“I don’t want to see the sport of boxing die,” White said. “This is my contribution to the sport I love. I think I can make something out of it.”