Godfather Al Haymon’s New TV Series Gives Him Even More Control over Boxing
By Ivan G. Goldman
Reading about boxing godfather Al Haymon’s deal to do a series of fights on CBS, I thought the report was in error because I was sure he already had a deal with NBC. Or was it the other way around? It turns out that he has deals with both networks, plus Spike and ESPN. And who knows if he’ll stop there?
Misinformed soothsayers have been saying that when geezers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao pass from the fight scene prizefighting will die, but clearly Haymon has big plans for a fight future that looks very much alive.
Meanwhile Haymon advises Floyd, the biggest money-maker in boxing, for an undisclosed piece of the action.
And yes, it’s a very big deal that boxing is coming back to over-the-air networks. They have a smaller audience share than they used to, but they still have the biggest audience.
It all starts March 7 on NBC when mini-star Keith Thurman, 24-0 (21 KOs), takes on mainstay Robert Guerrero, 32-2-1 (18 KOs), for a bogus welterweight title. Also, Floyd Mayweather wannabe Adrien Broner, 29-1 (22 KOs), faces John Molina, 27-5 (22 KOs). That’s a decent twin bill.
Molina has lost four of his last seven, but during one of those losses he gutted through 10-and-a-half rounds with Lucas Matthysse.
Broner, who at one time was considered a future star, is still trying to make his accomplishments match his mouth. His sloppy, boozy life between bouts means he could always fail again, as he did against Marcos Maidana in December 2013.
Thurman had reached the point where he was expected to flatten all opponents, but in his last fight he looked not quite so flashy against a determined Leonard Bundu, who took him the distance. That’s to be expected as competition gets stiffer. You can’t knock everybody out. Guerrero is an excellent test.
How did Haymon manage to get these networks to bring back boxing? The old-fashioned way. He paid them. We’re told he’s buying the time slots pretty much the same way infomercial product companies do. That costs millions. Apparently he’s got backers. It’s a risky venture, but one of the laws of money dictates that if you want to make a killing you have to take bigger risks.
This is big-time. When Haymon’s series, dubbed Premiere Boxing Champions, takes to the NBC airwaves, no less a personality than Marv Albert will command a microphone. The series goes to Spike March 13, back to CBS April 4, and on to NBC and Albert April 11.
Some of these big plans are complicated by the fact that Haymon, who used to be a music promoter, is a manager-advisor, not a fight promoter, so he must work with promoters. The federal Ali Act prevents managers from promoting because it’s a clear conflict of interest.
Don King used to get around that by making his son Carl King the manager and giving his office a different address. Presumably a smart guy like Haymon could hatch a similar scheme.
But Haymon’s business is further complicated by the fact that there are lots of people, promoters among them, he doesn’t work with and apparently can’t get along with. The enmity seems to come from both sides.
Haymon and HBO parted ways after Max Kellerman pointed out on camera that the mysterious impresario was able to place lesser fights on the network, fights that HBO wouldn’t accept under ordinary circumstances. So Haymon took his bigger fights to Showtime, which welcomed him.
Was Haymon’s move motivated by displeasure over Kellerman’s comment? Probably, but Haymon doesn’t say. He doesn’t talk to the media or release statements of any kind.
Godfather Haymon has an awful lot of fighters signed, but the number is kept secret. Almost everything about Haymon is kept secret. To this day, we don’t know the location of his office. But with the advent of his new PBC series, he had to retreat from at least a portion of all that concealment.
PBC actually has a website and even lists an email address for media inquiries. Taking advantage of this sudden new peek into his operation, I sent Haymon a message:
Dear Al Haymon,
Would you be kind enough to give me a list of the boxers you represent? Also, I’d like to interview you about your plans for the sport of boxing, much of which you control. Where are you?
Ivan G. Goldman
I’ll let you know when I hear back from him.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.