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Volume 21 No. 2
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Top Rank signs AT&T as sponsor

Boxing promoter Top Rank will add AT&T to its sponsorship roster next year, expanding the presence of a brand that in recent years has affixed its name to many of Top Rank’s bigger fights, but never as a committed package.

AT&T has sponsored individual Top Rank events, such as Pacquiao-Mosley in Las Vegas.
The six-month deal, which the promoter hopes to extend through 2012, is built around the sort of marquee Top Rank events that AT&T bought in recent years, such as Manny Pacquiao’s bouts in Las Vegas against Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, and Miguel Cotto’s fights against Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden and Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium. AT&T gets sponsor rights to Pacquiao’s projected “Super Fight” pay-per-view in May — potentially against Floyd Mayweather — plus two to three premium cable fights leading up to it, which the brand need not select until two weeks before each fight.

Top Rank and AT&T agreed on 10 fighters whose bouts would be acceptable: Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Yuriorkis Gamboa, Timothy Bradley, Mike Jones, Juan Manuel Lopez and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Sponsorship includes logo placement on the ring mat and, when applicable, in the broadcast, as well as arena and local activation rights, to use video and images in advertising and promotional materials and fight tickets.

Top Rank would not disclose financial terms of the deal. The promoter has shopped similar packages for about $1 million in previous years. Pacquiao’s profile and associated value to sponsors has increased markedly in the last year.

“Because we have this scheduling issue in boxing, where we don’t know who will fight when, it’s important that we be creative in the way we structure these deals,” said Lucia McKelvey, executive vice president of business development and marketing at Top Rank. “They’re flexible enough to pick out fights that are interesting to them and then run with them. They can pick their spots, and yet they’ll have the continuity that will make what they already were doing more effective.”

AT&T will use the sponsorship, struck through its multicultural marketing group, primarily to promote its wireless products to Hispanics. It also will promote its U-verse digital service. Unlike AT&T’s deal with Golden Boy Promotions, the package does not include exclusive live content for U-verse.