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How Top Rank Created a Boxing Bubble

Top Rank Boxing President Todd duBoef joined Yahoo Finance's On The Move to discuss how Top Rank created a Boxing Bubble amid Covid-19.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: And Todd duBoef is joining us now. He's Top Rank Boxing President, and he's joining us from Las Vegas. Todd, we talked to you early on in your process when you guys hadn't just started the bubble, but you were pretty close to the beginning.

You guys haven't had any positive cases, right? The bubble has worked well for you. What are some of the top lessons that you've learned during all of this that you think might be helpful for some of the other sports leagues that have had a bit of a trickier time?

TODD DUBOEF: Well, we have had a lot of cases, unfortunately. And we've just been-- set up a protocol system and a way to extract the people when they're quarantined and then take them out of the system. So we've been able to manage it.

And it's affected some of the fights where we have semifinals, or main events, or other bouts that are being postponed, and we have to move them out and go through a whole process. So it's one of the things that a lot of times in our sport we manage with normal athletic injuries, but now we're trying to manage a system where you have protocols that makes it so much more complicated. And you know, all from the production to the commissioners to everybody that has be a part of this ecosystem.

ADAM SHAPIRO: How long do you anticipate until we get back to an arena-type of setting for boxing? And are we going to have to have a whole new kind of filtration, air filtration systems before that's allowed to happen?

TODD DUBOEF: You know, I think the-- you know, everyone's saying when there's a vaccine, when there's a vaccine. And I'm not 100% sure that-- I kind of equate this to the TSA, right. We're just going to have a new system that we live in when we go to environments for entertainment, for restaurants and everything, and I think that it's going to be even in the absence of a vaccine.

And I think we're going to be going through health measures, and checks, and, you know, accrediting each individual with some type of way that you have been certified to go into the environment. And we're starting to see that. I think the NHL did a great job using clear technology in their bubble where you, every morning, get access based on your health and safety, and you go in through a process that you could enter certain facilities.

So I think some time after the first of the year, maybe the second quarter, you'll start to see it. I think we can socially space it right now, put, like, small arena fights into big football stadiums, which we've all been contemplating. So you'd spread everybody out, have different egresses where people come in.

DAN HOWLEY: Todd, this is Dan Howley. I want to ask what happens if a fighter does come down with COVID-19? And what do you do if multiple fighters come down?

TODD DUBOEF: So what happens is is we have a medical staff on location. We're at the MGM Grand. The night before, you would get tested. We have the high throughput labs, access to them. Therefore, once you get access, you get tested. If you come back negative-- each person has their own room-- a health-- a whole health team visits you at the room, takes you out of the facility, and then either puts you quarantined in a separate location immediately so you're extracted from most of the group, anybody else.

Simultaneously, we would notify everybody in the bubble at the time, and we notify camp members. So a lot of times the other contact people that have been in contact with them, the camp, the trainers, and everything would be extracted, as well, because they have had contact. So that is-- that's just what we do. It's been approved by the state of Nevada and the health department on our system.

INES FERRE: Todd, Ines here. I'm wondering what the fan reaction is to the bubble. Have you had communication with fans? How do they feel?

TODD DUBOEF: I think they feel that they're-- you know, I'd rather watch the events than not watch the events. I think there's a massive impact, my opinion is, in the television viewing experience. And I think when you're there live and there's no crowd noise, or no passion, or no, you know, the cheering for each other's fighter, you feel it. So I think the people would say, I'd rather see the fights than not see the fights.

And that's largely because, you know, we wanted to bring a live content to everybody. But when you're there, I mean, we pipe in crowd noise into the arena so that it can come through the cameras so that people can feel like they're doing that. And we see that with football right now and soccer. And I think the NBA did probably the best job in a fanless environment.

I think they nailed it. I think they nailed it with having-- creating home courts and making you feel like you were in La or in Milwaukee. And I think they nailed it better than anybody.

JULIE HYMAN: Todd, finally got to ask you, there's another change that you are making in your business. I don't know if it's more permanent, but we'll see. The Lomachenko-Lopez fight this weekend, it's going to be on ESPN. It's not going to be on pay-per-view. What led you to that decision? And is that going to be a change that you're going to make more long term?

TODD DUBOEF: You know, this was a-- this was a partnered decision. It was an opportunity in the fall. Typically, it's a very crowded sports content window. You have college football. You have baseball, I mean, in a normal cycle, right. You have NFL. You have the start of both NHL and the NBA.

And normally, we wouldn't have that opening. We wouldn't have that window of opportunity to present something that's probably our least cadenced period of time because of crowded space. But as a result of the uncertainty with the programming, ESPN and us, we all decided, listen, why don't we try to bring something to the forefront, create an Orange Bowl or a Cotton Bowl type of experience for the sport of boxing, give guys more exposure, and not actually put it behind a paywall?

So we think we're going to hit the most people available. We think that it's a great platform. It's a great platform to give the fighters exposure, and specifically boxing in a time when there's so much uncertainty in the sports program.

JULIE HYMAN: Todd, good to see you. Todd duBoef is Top Rank Boxing President. Thanks for joining us. Good to see you.

TODD DUBOEF: Thank you. Thank you. Nice seeing you again.