By Ivan G. Goldman
Boxing godfather Al Haymon or people working for him have sabotaged shows promoted by rivals in “multiple cities and states,” a well-placed industry source said today.
“It’s a bit of an open secret,” the source said. “I know there were other locales. It’s part and parcel of monopolizing” the sport.
It’s telling that few individuals are willing to go on the record saying anything negative about Haymon, the most powerful figure in boxing. The practices as described by the California commission and the industry source are uniquely aggressive even in the rough-and-tumble world of boxing.
In a recent boxinginsider.com story we revealed that the Haymon operation had been reserving Staples Center and the Forum, the two largest venues in Los Angeles, with the intention of preventing rival promoters from taking those dates.
The California commission took action to shut down these doings in L.A. It’s not clear whether they’re still ongoing in other boxing locales such as New York City and Las Vegas.
Once again we tried without success to get a response from Haymon or any of his employees at Premier Boxing Champions. He does not speak to members of the mass media and his company tends to follow suit.
Haymon’s PBC began broadcasting shows this year on CBS, NBC, and Spike, and it will make an ESPN debut next month. The long-running series Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 has meanwhile been cancelled.
In cities such as Los Angeles, venues for big fights can be hard to acquire. Dates must be inserted between home stands by the NBA Lakers and Clippers, the WNBA Sparks, the NHL Kings, and other events. The Forum, now renovated by its owner Madison Square Garden Company, is also a busy place.
When you consider that boxing shows must also be synchronized with available dates on TV networks you began to see what a complicated process it can be. Anything that disrupts that process can inflict big damage.
Before he began putting on PBC shows, Haymon was known as an adviser or manager to many top fighters, the most famous being pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather. Before that, Haymon produced concerts and TV shows for various groups.
The New York Times reports that the reclusive Haymon, who grew up in Cleveland, has a Harvard MBA. It’s unlikely his instructors there taught him to interfere with rival businesses. He still advises fighters. TV audiences have grown used to hearing them thank Haymon and God in the same sentence during their post-fight interviews.
In April the Association of Boxing Commissions sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the Justice Department to investigate Haymon’s business practices. And last month Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions sued Haymon and various other entities connected to him for $300 million in damages. The suit alleges repeated violations of the federal Muhammad Ali Act and antitrust laws.
The industry source, taking note of a Wall Street Journal story that reported recent investor withdrawals from an investment firm that is apparently a key source of funding for PBC, described the lawsuit, the ABC letter, and the Wall Street troubles as constituting a “conflagration.” To be fair, it’s not unusual for the competition to wish misfortune on Haymon – off the record.
On the other hand, Haymon has managed to bring prizefights back to over-the-air networks in prime time, something that was considered impossible not so long ago.
PBC lists 31 “featured” fighters on its website, but it has contracts with many more. The ESPN debut for PBC is set for July 11 in a show at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida. It will also be shown on ESPN Deportes. The main event features Keith Thurman versus Luis Collazo for what the WBA calls a welterweight title, but its real title is held by Mayweather.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.