Al Haymon’s PBC: Many Questions – Few Answers
By Sean Crose
Sometimes it’s simply better to make a note of something than it is to make a bold proclamation.
For instance, word’s out now that Al Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions series is in trouble. Indeed, the supposed matter is being discussed all over the internet. Here’s the thing, though – none of the speculation can be confirmed. Therefore, until there’s solid evidence that the PBC is falling on its figurative face, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. With that in mind, though, it’s worth noting that some odd things have been happening lately that are enough to make people curl their brows.
For starters, primetime ratings for the series were in decline for the greater part of PBCs inaugural year. Sure, the first Keith Thurman-Robert Guerrero headlined card last winter brought in over four million sets of eyeballs, but those numbers have never really been close to replicated since. Indeed, Danny Garcia’s throwdown with Robert Guerrero last weekend on Fox primetime arguably had decent ratings – but still seems to have done nowhere close to Thurman-Guerrero numbers.
It’s also worth noting that Al Haymon fighters now appear to be in the very good graces of the World Boxing Council. This is striking many as odd since PBC broadcasts had started off seeming to downplay sanctioning bodies’ specific roles in bouts which were aired. What’s more, it’s said that Showtime, not the PBC, is the force behind the upcoming fight between Haymon fighters Thurman and Shawn Porter on CBS.
What’s more the Thurman-Porter bout will be going down at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut –with tickets reasonably priced. Lastly, people are wondering aloud why major fights haven’t been announced lately for affiliated PBC home networks like ESPN, NBC and Spike. Word on the street (that means the internet when it comes to contemporary boxing) is all this points to the fact Haymon needs money.
Again, whether any of these assumptions and rumors are true or not remains to be seen. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that Haymon’s initial plans for this series appear to have been long term and far reaching. In an impressive article last April at Street @ Smith’s SportsBusiness, author Bill King quoted Ryan Caldwell at length on the challenges the PBC was presented with.
Caldwell, for those who don’t know, was with hedge fund [email protected] and was presumably the force behind a deal in which Waddell @Reed coughed up four hundred million plus dollars in order to back the PBC. That money is assumed to at least partially cover the costs required to air PBC on various major networks. The initial plan, now famous, was apparently to pay to air Haymon’s program until things such as advertiser interest were such that PBC would start bringing in huge profits.
“We do not think that this is easy,” Caldwell says in the King piece, “that we show up and all of a sudden there’s ratings and those ratings are representative of advertising rack rates, and all of a sudden the world is a cheery place. We didn’t capitalize the company based on that.”
Reading this over ten months after King’s article first appeared, it’s clear that tough times were indeed expected. “It’s a daunting investment,” attorney Mike Ring also states in King’s piece. “But when you get past short to medium to long money, it gets exciting.” The question now is whether or not the gamble will pay off, whether the naysayers are right or if Haymon ultimately proves to be the genius he’s been essentially hailed as.To be sure, many fighters have placed their faith in the mysterious former concert promoter. Indeed, Haymon clearly inspires faith even outside the ring. For Caldwell himself left [email protected] and reportedly ended up working with the man.
Ultimately, the question of whether the PBC is in real trouble at this point or is simply making its way down on an extremely lucrative road is one only time will answer.