WEDNESDAY EARLY PM UPDATE: NY based boxing promoter Lou DiBella didn’t hold fire when I asked for comment regarding the lawsuit lodged by Oscar De La Hoya, along with Bernard Hopkins, against Al Haymon and cohorts.
“Eff that,” he said, using more dismissive and pointed language in indicating his distaste for the Golden Boy suit, and he then pointed out that he was instrumental in helping draft the Muhammad Ali act, which the suit alleges is being trampled upon. That document seeks to help keep managers from acting on behalf of promoters–as it was alleged, say, Carl King might have been inclined to do when repping a fighter, but also doing a deal with his father, the promoter Don King–in order to insure fighters are being represented in good faith, and receiving fair market value compensation for their services
DiBella took issue with the characterization that Haymon is in fact the promoter for Premier Boxing Champions cards, and said, “Why don’t you ask Brett Yormark (CEO of Barclays Center) who promoted the April 11 card which drew about 12,000 people to the arena?” DiBella also noted that he has some familiarity with miuch of the material within the suit, having graduated from Harvard Law School. Not to mention, as for the contention that Golden Boy is being harmed by Haymon’s supposed attempt at monopolization, DiBella pointed out that Golden Boy seems to be competed on an even playing field, being that they are putting on a high-profile card Saturday, in Texas, which will screen on HBO.
Laywers inside the pugilistic arena are getting workouts of late.
A suit was filed on Tuesday, in federal court, in California, by Golden Boy Promotions. Lawyer Bert Fields heads up a suit on behalf of Golden Boy Promotions and also Bernard Hopkins, alleging that mogul Al Haymon wishes to monopolize pro boxing “and drive out all competition.”
Haymon, the suit states, has violated the Ali Boxing Reform Act and the Sherman Act, which deals with antitrust issues.
The suit calls Haymon “predatory” and “the Rasputin of boxing.”
I reached out to a Haymon Boxing rep to get their take on the suit, and was told that Haymon, notable for his reclusiveness in dealing with media, is choosing at this time not to comment on the matter.
His money backers, funding his Premier Boxing Champions series, which rolled out amid massive fanfare earlier this year, are also named in the suit.
The suit further states that Haymon functions as both a promoter and manager, basically, and that he has engaged in “illegal conduct” which is “designed to eliminate all competition.” It is stated that Haymon has a “total domination of the market for managing of Championship-Caliber Boxers,” and thus he holds too much power, to an extent the courts must weigh in and decide the matter.
A promoter shouldn’t and can’t act as a manager of a boxer, and Haymon might, I believe, counter that he does not act as a promoter, and thus, there is no conflict. Further, he may put forth that the Ali act was put in place to benefit boxers, keep them from being exploited, and he might counter that boxers he advises are in fact being paid handsomely, and are not being exploited.
Further, the suit states that Haymon’s money backers, namely a NY-firm named “Waddell,” at one point offered to purchase Golden Boy, but asked that head of Golden Boy De La Hoya sign a non-compete agreement. That deal going unconsummated, the suit says, meant Haymon next tried to “drive Golden Boy from the boxing business.”
Haymon possesses an unlawful edge, Fields contends, because he acts as both manager and promoter to a parcel of fighters.
More allegations…Haymon fighters must sign “coercive contracts,” part of a play in “turning the model upside down.” Also, Fields accuses Haymon of “scalping” tickets to unnamed shows Haymon Boxing has helped put together, or he has a hand in arranging, and posits that proper taxes are not paid on that revenue. More material; the suit states that Haymon also functions as a sanctioning body and intend to have their own champions.
Expect said lawyers to engage most aggressively in what is sizing up to be a 15 round clash.
Here is the release sent out by Golden Boy on Wednesday morning:
LOS ANGELES (May 6): Golden Boy Promotions today filed a $300 million lawsuit against Al Haymon and his related companies and Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. and its related hedge funds, alleging their repeated violation of the antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. The case was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles.
Since the moment Al Haymon launched Premier Boxing Champions, he has repeatedly and brazenly broken the letter and spirit of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act that is meant to protect fighters from exploitation. As part of an anti-competitive conspiracy that includes financial backers from Waddell & Reed, Haymon has “entered into agreements to restrain trade in a substantial portion of the market for promotion of Championship-Caliber Boxers,” the bombshell new lawsuit claims.
“During my 25 years in boxing, I have watched far too many fighters be chewed up, spit out and left with nothing to sit idly by while Mr. Haymon flaunts a federal law meant to protect those who put everything on the line to entertain fans of our sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Founder and President of Golden Boy Promotions. “The Muhammad Ali Act was passed to help fighters avoid the fate that bedeviled so many of our predecessors; and I will do everything in my power to ensure this crucial piece of legislation is upheld and followed.”
The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Ali Act and antitrust statutes by Haymon, among the most glaring of which is that he routinely serves as both manager of his fighters and promoter of their fights, even though such a dual role is explicitly prohibited by the Ali Act in order to “protect boxers, the boxing industry, and the public from abusive, exploitive, and anticompetitive behavior.”
According to the lawsuit: “By ignoring the ‘firewall’ established by the Ali Act, the Haymon Defendants are essentially sitting on both sides of the bargaining table. While purporting to act in their clients’ best interests, the Haymon Defendants have obtained direct and indirect financial interests in promoting their boxers – thereby creating the very conflict of interest the Ali Act sought to remedy.”
Haymon calls himself a “manager” or an “advisor,” yet Haymon and his myriad of companies are well known to arrange and contract for the bouts, the arenas, the sponsors and the television time – all duties of a boxing promoter. Even Haymon-managed fighters themselves repeatedly refer to Haymon as their “promoter,” though he is well-known to manage more than 100 fighters.
Haymon is, not only pushing out other legitimate promoters in favor of ineffective puppets that he controls, but locking out top fighters who dare to not join his stable of boxers.
“At the age of 50 and after spending most of my adult life in boxing, I thought I’d seen every trick in the book aimed at undermining those who actually step into the ring,” said former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Bernard Hopkins. “Having personally been refused a lucrative fight with a Haymon-managed fighter, I have felt first-hand the impact of Haymon’s attempt to form a monopoly. These practices are detrimental to boxers, fans and the sport as a whole,” added Hopkins, a co-owner of Golden Boy Promotions.
The complaint alleges that Waddell & Reed and related companies aided and abetted Haymon in his commission of the claimed violations of law.
The Golden Boy Suit comes days after the Association of Boxing Commissions called on newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Haymon for many of the same infractions spelled out in today’s lawsuit.
As part of the lawsuit, Golden Boy is seeking damages of $300 million.
A copy of the lawsuit is available upon request.
Details of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act can be found at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/106/hr1832