Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef Poised to Lead Boxing
June 25, 2010
Thomas Hauser of SecondsOut Boxing News has written a great article on Top Rank President, Todd DuBoef, in which he discusses DuBoef’s start in the business, rise to power, and some of the things that set him apart from other boxing promoters.
The article is quite lengthy, so I’ll just post a snippet here. To give you some context, in this part of the article Hauser and DuBoef are talking about expanding the business of boxing and the need to increase exposure on television.
“The current economic model is about appealing to a handful of television executives, not fans,” DuBoef elaborates. “And the lack of vision, the lack of knowledge, and the behavior of some of these executives is very disappointing to me. Maybe I was naïve, but I expected more. Once upon a time, I assumed that the people who bought fights for the networks understood the business. Many of them don’t. And I thought that they’d be guided by a desire for the best content because that’s the best way to sell their product and serve their subscribers. But that’s not necessarily the way they operate. Let’s be honest. Most of these guys are in the job-preservation business. Bob gets angry when he talks about it. I say, the television networks are what they are, just like the world sanctioning bodies are what they are. They’re part of our world, and we’ll deal with it.”
DuBoef seems to have the kind of approach necessary to lead a potential boxing comeback. He’s patient and calm, but necessarily aggressive at the right moments of opportunity. More importantly, he possesses a great working knowledge of the sport, but also understands how to speak to the board room. That’s important. The television deals, sponsorship agreements, and licensing opportunities that will expand the sport of boxing hinge on the ability of people like DuBoef to bridge the gap between the sport and the business world.
Another piece of the article that caught my eye was the following:
“Todd is a showman,” HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg acknowledges. “There’s no doubt that he has elevated the big-event feeling for boxing to a new level. For Pacquiao-Clottey, we gave him what we usually allocate for sound and lighting and told him that, if he wanted to spend more, he could supplement it out of Top Rank’s pocket. With the big screen and sound and blue-lit lighting, he made the event feel like a mini-Super Bowl.”
I think it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line in sport between sport and entertainment. No property can rely solely on the on-field, in-ring, or in-cage product: the entire show has to be an experience.
Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money, and you certainly can’t always measure the success of an investment based upon the short-term ROI (or even the ROI at all). The benefits of some investments take years to pay off (and aren’t always quantifiable when they do pay off). But when they do pay off, you’ll see it in a big way.
That’s why I can’t criticize the UFC, for example, for putting a card together in Vancouver when it likely could have made more in the short-term with another venue. As it stands, the show did well on PPV and at the gate, which should help it off-set the cost of the ridiculous insurance premium the UFC had to pay. However, the real payoff will come down the road when MMA finally gets sanctioned in the Provinces of British Columbia and Ontario (or even nationally).