Bob Arum's Top Rank came out with the W in what could stand up as the most buzzed about fight of 2020, on Feb. 22.
And the Las Vegas outfit is almost set to officially announce what will likely be the second most buzz-y clash of the first half of the year in boxing, the May 30 lightweight showdown between the Ukrainian OG Vasiliy Lomachenko, and upstart Teofimo Lopez, the Brooklyn born ultra brash power hitter.
Arum told NYF that the Loma-Lopez tiff “won't be announced next week…Monday or Tuesday the week after.” Top Rank has their rising poud for pound featherweight craftsman Shakur Stevenson in versus willing but out-gunned Miguel Mariaga at the MSG Theater on March 14. Shakur should go to 14-0 and more curiousity will be expended on whether he stops the 29-3 challenger as opposed to whether he will lose to the Colombian who makes a solid living testing Top Rank's A teamers. “We're finalizing the fight, it's gonna happen, just firming up details.”
The ultra ultra vet said that deals are done a bit differently now, revenue comes in a bit differently as people shift more from cable and satellite to digital service.
Yes, Top Rank seems to be, no, IS adapting to the new ways and means of operating. Arum said he was hands off and Todd DuBoef worked the deal which brings Top rank fare to Space, the Latin America pay-tv platform. I wondered aloud if that isn't a smart option B play, in case ESPN decides after a couple years to edge away from boxing. Nah, Bob said, I'm reading into it too much. Todd told him about the deal, told him the size of the check, and Bob said good work.
But yeah, it's part of a shift.
Boxing isn't as US-centric; Top Rank has 14 events solidified as we move out of the winter into the spring and then the summer creeps up fast on us. Five of those are supposed to take place outside the US, Arum said.
The TR crew will pack bags and hit Quebec, and then Scotland, or are supposed to, the viral attack on 100 different countries has everyone comprehending that we all have to see how the pandemic plays out.
We learned last week that DAZN is plunging in their flags deeper and wider apart; they will be bringing their service, now an option to snag in 9 nations, to 200 countries/markets/territories. That's pretty much most of the world, absent places where powers that be like to control entertainment options more so. Sorry, Iran.
So the UK, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Russia, Poland, places with a respectable history in boxing will now be more obvious options to place events. And, c'mon now, who here thinks that's a bad thing? Place some scraps in a joint teeming with jazzed up rooters, and that can lift some of those sorta ho-hum mandatories to another level, because of regional pride fueling the underdog.
My guess would be they do a sort of low key roll out, not a bells and whistles affair, all the better to make sure the wires and routers and connectors are working seamlessly. By May 2, when Canelo gloves up against TBA-TBD, this next phase of DAZN's push should be solidified.
You've seen numbers floating around, and yes, piles of loot have been used as kindling to get their program to the simmer stage. By the end of the year, maybe all those markets start to reverse the trend, and DAZN starts to enjoy more up weeks in terms of making versus spending.
We can't assume that in a year they reverse the trending and the sea of red has turned green. But we also should comprehend that the corporation bigs, and we're mainly talking Ukrainian-born mogul Len Blavatnick, who heads up Access, the privately held business behemoth, have track records of succeeding in the petrochemical, oil, pay TV, and the music biz (WarnerMusic, the third largest of its type in the world, is an Access polished diamond) spaces.
They get it, it takes money to make money, and they have Goldman Sachs out there finding parties who want to put in, and align with Blavatnick.
Eddie Hearn has been leading the charge for DAZN in forming the schedule and collecting the players that make up DAZN league. Seemingly, his willingness to enter the Saudi space, and partner up with the kingdom's drivers who want to change up the national image, and make SA a destination for more than worship havens, is drawing approving nods from the Access bigwigs. We can expect more of that, once coronoavirus gets tamed more so. The expansion might be good news for US-based subscribers, too. Some of those nations have humming economies and will pay handsomely in rights fees, so the healthier bottom line might mean subscribers can expect a stable monthly/annual service fee.
And yeah, I don't mind a little time zone-a-palooza, fewer 12:15 post midnight start times for main events.
Back to Arum's widening out of his game board. We could see more cooperation, with these parties that are often at odds, choosing to band together, and be able to offer a better product, by allowing their “assets” to co-mingle. (Oh, and yes my mind did drift, and I wondered if an Access might ask Bob what his ask is for the Top Rank kit ‘n kaboodle.)
“I commend DAZN and this global outlook, and now maybe we have the ability to cooperate with them around the world…the appetite now for big-time boxing in the Middle East, that exciting,” Arum told me. “You know, the biggest promoter of events in Indonesia came to see me today (Friday).” Arum said it's quite likely Top Rank will place a card in Jakarta, post coronavirus.
Bottom line, all y'all out there, I'd wrap my heads around a shift coming harder in the second half of the year. If you thought boxing got globalized in the last five years, that's minor league compared to where we're going.
“I would hope that next year, we do thirty events,” Arum finished, “and twelve to fourteen are outside the country.”