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WWE’s Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan express interest in entering boxing world

Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan of WWE say they may have interest in the sport of boxing.

Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan of WWE say they may have interest in the sport of boxing
Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan of WWE say they may have interest in the sport of boxing
Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

If every other carny can do it, why not the carnies at WWE?

Co-WWE CEOs Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan have both expressed interest in potentially entering the sport of boxing, speaking with Wells Fargon analyst Steven Cahall in Wednesday at a conference in Las Vegas.

From Brandon Thurston at Wrestlenomics:

Also in the context of acquisitions, McMahon and Khan both talked about potential opportunities in boxing. McMahon pointed out how there are multiple boxing championships that could be rolled up into one, like how, in her description, Vince McMahon consolidated wrestling in the 1980s.

Khan said most sports stars before the mid-80s were individual sports stars like boxers and tennis players, and pointed to an opportunity with boxing. He added that boxing, as well as horseracing, were the most popular sports along with baseball in the 1950s. Khan said with the rise of sports betting, there’s an opportunity for WWE, seemingly in boxing and, if I understood correctly, horseracing. The latter he noted is only popular up to three times a year, seeming to indicate there may be a way to make those events successful more frequently.

If every other carny can do it, why not the carnies at WWE?

A couple things should be noted:

  • Everything WWE have tried to “expand” into that is not professional wrestling in the last 40 years — when Stephanie’s father Vince McMahon was given a sweetheart deal to “buy” the company from his father — has been a failure. Two attempts at a spring football league failed, a couple of attempts to get big in Hollywood (one in the late 80s with Hulk Hogan, another in the 2000s) failed, Vince’s bodybuilding federation (the WBF) in the early 90s failed. (Vince was involved in boxing a couple times, too, helping to promote shows, and that didn’t really work out, but it wasn’t a major investment he’d made, really.) Stephanie and Nick Khan are not Vince, but the company has a long track record of being able to do its one thing well and being in way over their heads otherwise.
  • The boxing industry has a long, repeated history of chewing up and spitting out would-be gate-crashers. Just in recent years, we’ve seen Triller (who at least had some commercial success before Jake Paul bolted to Showtime), Roc Nation, 50 Cent, and companies that tried to attach the likes of Mike Tyson and others to their name burn out hard and fast. We’ve seen DAZN struggle to really catch on in the U.S. for over four years now. It is not a friendly business. It is very insular. The sharks are always circling.

A few other things!

  • The fantasy that you’re going to shrink the boxing world down with “belts that can be rolled into one” is just that, a fantasy. Boxing is a terribly-run sport, but it operates the way it does because the established players want it that way. There is not a single high-end promoter in the game arguing for there to be less world titles. If there were less world titles, then we wouldn’t have a “world title fight” every week, and they all want the ability to do that.
  • Boxing has a lot of issues and fixing them would also almost certainly include taking fighter pay way down. UFC boss Dana White has “looked into” boxing for years now and never come very close to actually entering the fray, saying that the business is a mess. And while it may be easy to poo-poo the reasons for White saying that — namely that he wants to detract from a sorta-competitor’s reputation — it’s not that he’s wrong.
  • In other words, boxing is broken, but it still runs, and the people in charge know how to keep it working in the way they want, without actually fixing anything. People trying to come in from the outside usually don’t seem to fully understand that to “fix” boxing, it would have to be thrown out and re-started, basically, and none of the power players are going to just sit by and let that happen. They haven’t yet, and I just don’t think the people at WWE are going to be the ones to completely blow up the system.
  • Anything associated with the WWE name, even if the exact WWE name isn’t on the posters or whatever, would immediately struggle for credibility with boxing and general sports fans. There would be constant suspicion about the legitimacy. Other promoters and broadcasters would almost certainly throw some shade at that, too.

In short, I wouldn’t expect much to come of this any time soon, but they did say it, and they do have money.

Oh, and no, you’re not going to make horse racing consistently popular again. That is super not happening.

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