Top Rank Files Suit Claiming Al Haymon is Conspiring To Monopolize Boxing
By Bryanna Fissori
If promoter, manager, jack of all trades and (some legally questionable ones) Al Haymon thought he had a mess to deal with coming into the recent lawsuit filed by Golden Boy Promotions, the plot thickens with a similar attack coming from Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing.
For anyone who is new to the world of boxing, these are the big dogs. The ones that put on the big shows with the big names and big money. Al Haymon manages Floyd Mayweather Jr. and hundreds of other fighters under Premier Boxing Champions. Bob Arum is the promoter for Manny Pacquiao amongst countless others, and Golden Boy is owned by Oscar De La Hoya. If you don’t know those names, you can stop reading now. This won’t matter to you.
The complaint was filed by Arum’s legal team on the first of the month with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The document brings causes of action for violations of the Sherman Act and California Unfair Competition Law as well as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. All of these regulatory laws work to prevent monopolistic practices, which is difficult to do in an industry overwhelmingly stereotyped for corruption. If either or both Top Rank and Golden Boy can succeed in their claims against Haymon, it may serve some as a symbol of an effort to change that old classic mentality of professional boxing. Then again, everyone has an agenda.
Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc is the management and financial planning company backing many of Haymon’s business ventures. The complaint claims that the company has invested more than $400 million in the activities in question. They are also listed as defendants in the case filed by Golden Boy.
“With the financial backing, complicity, and material assistance of Waddell & Reed and other financers, Haymon is rigging the boxing industry for they can act as manager, promoter, sponsor and ticket broker for nearly every major professional boxer competing in the United States,” states the complaint. . . “Openly defying the statutorily-mandated “firewall” between manager and promoter. . . Haymon has leveraged his dominance in the boxing management business to injure and exclude competitors in the business of promoting professional boxing matches in the United States.”
In April, the Association of Boxing Commissions requested U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Haymon and the practices of Premier Boxing Champions. Really, that means Haymon should is currently under scrutiny from nearly every major player in the game.
Specifically the complaint from Top Rank accuses Haymon of a number of anti-competitive tactics including:
1. Inducing professional boxers to enter unlawful “tie out” agreements, which prevent the boxers (who’s interests Haymon purports to represent) from freely contracting with legitimate promoters;
2. Illegally acting as a promoter and fraudulently operating in the promotion business through a network of “sham” promoters;
3. Blocking legitimate promoters’ access to major venues through fraud, overbooking, and other unlawful means; and
4. Preventing legitimate promoters from access to television broadcasters through exclusive dealings, overbooking and other unlawful means.
One big no, no which has been in contention is violation of the regulation in the Ali Act. The act states that a person cannot function as both manager and promoter. Haymon contends that he is the “manager” for Floyd Mayweather Jr, but as asserted by the language of the case, Haymon was widely understood to be the “main promoter” for the May 2, 2015 bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
The Washington post reported, “[Haymon’s] fingerprints are on every part of the fight-from the signed contracts and lucrative terms of the deal, to the venue, to the television deals that will score both fighters- and Haymon too- millions of dollars.”
Top Rank is asking for more than $100 million in damages as well as injunction to stop Haymon from further damaging the industry.
Premier Boxing Champions responded to the lawsuit saying “The lawsuit filed today by Bob Arum and Top Rank is entirely without merit and is a cynical attempt by boxing’s old guard to use the courts to undermine the accessibility, credibility and exposure of boxing that the sport so desperately needs.”