Top Rank want to bring some of their international stars to Britain. John Dennen spoke to Todd DuBoef
TOP RANK is coming to promote shows in the UK, although their Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall event in Glasgow has been put back to February 26 after Taylor, the super-lightweight champion, suffered a knee injury.
“Our venture with [Sky] is obviously to bring our world class events that are coming from other places, like the United States, off prime time and then to build with them a gradual platform that has us doing fights regularly on the location, and we’ll do that together in conjunction with them,” Top Rank president Todd DuBoef told Boxing News.
He wants to bring over some of their international stars, like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Naoya Inoue or Teófimo López, as part of this new deal with Sky Sports. “We’re looking forward to working with them [Sky] and finding strategic guys to bring there and develop there. It could be a Loma, it could be an Inoue, it could be Teófimo. Bringing some at the highest level because we’ve seen a lot of the Brits come to America, maybe it’s time for a lot of world fighters to come to Britain. We saw with Loma and [Luke] Campbell, I thought it was a wonderful promotion,” he said. “Teófimo-Josh Taylor is a complete natural fit. I think there’s an unlimited amount of fights because of the sophistication of the UK fanbase. I think they really appreciated it when Golovkin came over and fought Kell Brook and I think that’s a real credit to the fanbase that’s developed there.”
“You have [Artur] Beterbiev that’s fighting Marcus Browne, it will be in December, and then you’ve got some great light-heavies over there [in Britain],” he continued. “You selectively select world class guys at the highest level, bring them in and surround them with really good local talent and you can have big events.”
Top Rank in the UK is part of his ambition. “We’ve been trying to get there for a while and I think we’re in the first steps. We’re very excited about the partnership and the market,” he said. “It’s been something I’ve been dreaming about for 15 years.
“It’s just something I’ve always aspired to – I think what they’ve been able to cultivate and develop on the Sky platform over years, is something that is absolutely textbook brilliant – to be able to take our stable and our content and put that on that platform.”
The UK market is richly appealing. “You can penetrate it. In the United States we have a lot of headwinds, a lot of headwinds. Here you guys don’t have nearly the amount of headwinds and the work Sky has done over the years, to pave the way for fight fans and the fighters and the audience, is just smooth sailing,” DuBoef said. “I think that’s a wonderful dynamic to be a part of.”
He is diplomatic when asked about Eddie Hearn’s plans for global domination. “Listen, he took over America, how many years ago? Everyone was out of business three years ago,” DuBoef said. “I think there is this narrative that people in boxing envy what UFC has become and people in boxing say, ‘How can we get there? How can I get there?’ I think there’s a massive difference of business model. One [UFC in MMA] is first to market and the other is massive globalisation with an Olympic product that’s been around for hundreds of years, that has a flow of fighters all over the world, a massive market. I think he may have a strategy for DAZN to get the best product on their platform, I’m not sure. I think this sport has so much depth to it and so much infrastructure and culture.
“I think when I look at boxing and what it most resembles, it most resembles the globalisation of football, soccer. La Liga, Bundesliga, Premier league, they have their footholds, they have relationships with different partners,” he continued. “Is there only one soccer league? Only when it comes to the World Cup do you have one unified type of nature of it. But the market for all the different [leagues] is there, they have robust television partners that are feeding rabid fans.”
He also anticipates even larger digital platforms, beyond television broadcasters, coming into sport and into boxing. “Amazon’s coming online, Apple, Netflix may be getting live sports, all of these new entrances are going to create opportunities outside of one or two, a duopoly, or three people. They’re going to try to get into the business and get into the business in different ways,” DuBoef said. The pie, he expects, is going to get bigger and a lot of people are going to want their piece of it.