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"I've been knocking on the door for 15 years!" Todd DuBoef on Top Rank's UK takeover

For the latest in our series of boxing innovators, we sit down with president of Top Rank Todd DuBoef to discuss Bob Arum, Sky Sports and much more

Todd DuBoef

Todd DuBoef mightn't yet have the name recognition of Bob Arum or Eddie Hearn but the president of Top Rank is one of the most powerful men in boxing. 

(Obviously. He's the president of Top Rank.) 

Both the right-hand man and stepson of the legendary promoter Arum, DuBoef is an impressive figure in his own right. He grew up in Las Vegas, the epicentre of the boxing world, and was obsessed with the sport long before it became his profession. 

We caught up with the man himself to discuss his relationship with Arum, Top Rank's new broadcasting deal with Sky Sports, and his vision for UK boxing in the years to come. 

You can listen to the interview and check out selected quotes in the article below. You can also listen to this interview and other Boxing Innovators on Spotify or Apple Podcast

On utilising social media to promote boxers

We have a big social team that talks to our boxers' teams, offers to help them with their content. Oscar Valdez shares videos showing himself swimming with reptiles. It's crazy! That's the beauty of it. People feel it's real. The other stuff -- workout videos, etc -- is a bit formulaic. You used the word monotonous. It is: but it's easy for boxers. That's what they believe people want to see. In today's world, social media is either really empowering, if you use it correctly, or it's a big mess. 

On the new Top Rank deal with Sky Sports

I've been knocking on the door for 15 years! My hand is all bloody! This has been a place that we've always wanted to be. We've had some big PPV fights that were occasionally on the platform but we were always looking up to Sky, I always aspired to be on Sky. They've done such a wonderful job developing the sport, really positioning it uniquely for the fans in the UK. It's almost like a Harvard case study in how you take a sport that wasn't positioned correctly and reestablish it.

On his initial scepticism for PPV

I'm going to show my vulnerability here. We showed the Amir Khan vs Phil Lo Greco fight on ESPN linear [aka the main channel]. Then in June I did Terence Crawford vs Jeff Horn on ESPN+ [a PPV channel]. In my nativity, I felt like I was going backwards. I made a move from premium cable, behind a paywall, to go to open-air ESPN, be seen in 90 million homes – why am now I going to a pay app that has such a small universe?

On using mainstream broadcasting to promote PPV

I'd advocated to all the athletes: "you don't want to go behind a paywall! We're taking you outside a paywall!" Then three months later, I'm the biggest hypocrite in the world: I'm throwing them behind a paywall! I looked like a total schmuck! But the amount of noise, the sheer awareness that ESPN linear was able to create for Crawford vs Horn, a fight being shown on their ESPN + platform – it was marketing beyond marketing! It was everywhere!

On bringing major US boxers to the UK

Absolutely that will happen. When Lomachenko came here against Luke Campbell in August 2019, it was a wonderful turnout! Even the Naoya Inoues of the world would work great here. Over the coming months we'll be discussing the strategy of how we do that. How do we dissect the stable, break it up and use the calendar to position big events at the right time with both local stars and global stars.

On working with Bob Arum at Top Rank

Bob and I have a great team partnership. He loves to sit and schmooze and talk to you guys and go out there and say things that I would never say. Probably he says things that most people would never say! He can be controversial, he can be adoring. I've always appreciated the business side of it. I don't look at our company as an event-based business; I look at us as a media-based business.

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