By: Sean Crose
Things could be getting interesting. According to fight writer Mike Coppinger, Endeavor, which owns MMA powerhouse Ultimate Fighting Championship, may well be purchasing Al Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions. What this might mean, if much of anything, to the boxing world at large remains unclear. Still, the thought of the outlet that runs the biggest name in mixed martial arts also running one of the biggest names in boxing is nothing if not eyebrow raising. According to Coppinger, “Al held several meetings with Ari Emanuel about a potential deal where Al would still be majorly involved the same way Dana is with UFC following that deal with Endeavor.”
It’s hard to imagine Haymon and White being any less alike. White is an old school promoter, unafraid to speak his mind. Haymon, on the other hand, is reclusive when it comes to the media. What’s more, White is criticized, fairly or not, for underpaying his fighters while Haymon, fairly or not, is criticized for overpaying his. One thing is certain – the PBC, which was argued to have hemorrhaged money in it’s first years – most look to have some considerable value in the eyes of Endeavor.
Beginning in 2015, PBC was promoted as a series that would bring boxing back to the American general public. By purchasing time buys on countless networks, Haymon could – and did – air so many fights on basic cable that boxing became ubiquitous on American TV screens for a time. Competitors Golden Boy and Top Rank took legal action against Haymon, as it looked to them as if he were up to some shenanigans, but those actions went nowhere. Still, Haymon eventually broke with networks and the money seemed to be running out. Now PBC fighters find themselves mainly on Pay Per View, Showtime and Fox.
With that in mind, Haymon has one of the most lucrative stables in boxing. Not only are heavyweight champions Deontay Wilder and David Ruiz under Haymon’s tent, but so are Manny Pacquiao – a legend if ever there was one – Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, and a whole lot of others. Haymon’s official role as “adviser” rather than manager or promoter also positions him uniquely in the boxing world, as his limits and practices are not always entirely clear.
At the moment, none of these matters appear to bother Endeavor, who kept White front and center at the UFC and is rumored on planning to do the same with Haymon, should the company decide to purchase PBC. It’s also been rumored that Endeavor might (“might” being the operative word here) treat the PBC as it does the UFC – as its own separate league. How this would work in boxing, which unlike MMA, is not a league based sport, is unclear. Things get especially murky when one considers the fact that Haymon’s fighters sometimes “cross the street” and fight other promoter’s fighters.