Al Haymon, the man once jokingly referred to as “the Ghost” by Floyd Mayweather Jr., has long been an evanescent figure in boxing. He’s also as polarizing as he is enigmatic.
Depending on whom you ask among fighters, boxing pundits, and hardcore fans, Haymon is either the greatest thing to happen to the sport of boxing since the invention of the padded glove, or he is the Antichrist. And there really is no in between.
Haymon’s supporters view him as a savant-like boxing adviser that is fiercely loyal to his fighters and always has their best interests in mind. Furthermore, in their eyes he should be praised and practically deified for bringing his Premier Boxing Champions outfit to network television, freeing the sport from the expensive clutches of premium cable channels and pay-per-view broadcasts. His PBC brand also deliberately refuses to acknowledge the existence of alphabet belts on air, a clear slap in the face to the money-hungry sanctioning bodies, but a necessary step to make boxing “better” according to his defenders.
Haymon’s haters, contrastingly, contend that he’s a shady fellow that is constantly tightrope-walking the parameters outlined in the Ali Act and whose alleged monopolizing practices are supposedly ruining boxing. By stockpiling elite fighters – many from the same division – and controlling their every career move, he’s also chiefly to blame for many big fights not happening according to his detractors.
But the truth about Haymon, as tends to be the case with most polarizing figures, probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two widely varying extremes. Regardless of where you stand on Haymon, the fact of the matter is that he’s only able to exert such great influence over his stable of fighters because he has earned their trust by fulfilling his promises, both financially and in regard to making successful career moves.
One word that perfectly describes Haymon’s philosophy: calculating. The classic risk versus reward dichotomy is thoroughly analyzed during the matchmaking phase before any Haymon fighter signs on the dotted line. Not a press conference nor weigh-in is scheduled, and not a punch is thrown without Haymon’s approval. ESPN.com’s Brian Campbell perhaps summed up Haymon’s modus operandi best by explaining that Haymon is “known for getting his fighters the most money for the least amount of risk.”
However, that’s clearly not always the case.
Top-level welterweights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are both Haymon clients, but Steve Kim of BoxingScene.com reported that a fight between the two pugilists is tentatively in place for early 2016, which means Haymon is close to signing off on it.
Danny Garcia and Angel Garcia recently caught up with ThaBoxingVoice in an interview with our own Anthony Rodriguez and alluded to that very possibility, but also emphasized that nothing is ever finalized until Haymon says so.
When asked if they had heard about the possibility of a Thurman-Porter matchup, Angel replied, “Is it on? The fight is on?”
Rodriguez explained to the father-son duo that while the fight seems imminent, some the details have not yet been ironed out, including the date of the fight.
“So there’s not (a fight), basically,” Danny said, chuckling at the thought of anyone jumping to conclusions about a hypothetical fight involving one or more of Haymon’s fighters.
“It’s up to the big boy, it’s up to the big boy,” Angel repeated, clearly referring to Al Haymon.
“Listen, it’s never official ’til you get off the scale,” Danny added, still slyly grinning from ear to ear.
To give the quotes some additional context, they were very lighthearted in nature and were in no way meant as snarky remarks about Haymon. The tongue-and-cheek comments were more so just an emphatic confirmation of Haymon’s massive influence over his clients and over the boxing world in general.
Whether you love Al Haymon and think he’s good for boxing, or Chairman of the Haymon Hater Club, once again the point is illustrated: Nothing. Happens. Without. His. Approval.
UPDATE: The Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter fight is a done deal and will happen on either March 5 or March 12, per USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Coppinger. The venue will be announced in the very near future along with the official date.