PBC Lawsuit marks boxing’s Cold War

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Al HaymonSeems like the gloves are off and another of boxing’s main staples is going after manager/advisor Al Haymon.

According to LA Times reporter Lance Pugmire, “Top Rank, Inc. is seeking more than $100 million in damages and an injunction to stop Haymon’s “predatory practices” in a 50-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Top Rank attorneys detail a litany of steps they claim Haymon has taken to thumb his nose at the mandated separation between manager and promoter with his PBC model.”

Top Rank, Inc. is the second major staple taking Haymon and “PBC” to task after Golden Boy and Oscar De La Hoya filed suit for 300 million in May. Here are some excerpts from the suit as per Pugmire’s report.

“If left unabated, this conspiracy threatens to fatally cripple competition in [boxing], thereby causing substantial and irreversible harm to boxers, legitimate promoters, and consumers,” Top Rank attorney Daniel Petrocelli wrote in the lawsuit.

The suit claims that Haymon is willing to take a short-term loss of over 200 million dollars in order to get a net gain in boosting up the price for boxing that may shut out everyone else by Haymon and PBC

“In order to stifle legitimate promoters from competing against PBC, Haymon has obtained exclusivity commitments from broadcasters. Between these predatory ‘payola’ payments and the expenses of promoting each televised match, Haymon and Waddell & Reed are operating at a significant short-term loss in the millions of dollars. This ‘loss leader’ strategy … has allowed Haymon to gain unfair advantage in the promoter market to the severe detriment of legitimate competitors like Top Rank,” according to the lawsuit.

According to Pugmire, the lawsuit also included a squatting venue tactic used by Haymon when it came to blocking other promoters out. One fight that came to mind was the Lucas Matthysse-Ruslan Provodnikov fight that took place in Verona, New York on April 17th.

The bout was being eyed for March 26th in the Stub Hub Center but there were reports that Haymon was squatting that date for a Gary Russell Jr.-Jhonny Gonzalez fight in return for the venue getting an upcoming Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout. The Matthysse-Provodnikov fight ended up happening on the same date as the Chavez-Fonfara fight that took place at the Stub Hub Center.

“Using one’s power to box out competitors is a classic monopolistic tactic,” Petrocelli wrote in the lawsuit. “Once Haymon obtains monopoly power in the market for promoting professional boxing matches, he will recoup the losses by charging exorbitant prices to broadcasters, sponsors, and consumers. Haymon and Waddell & Reed will be the sole competitor.”

Interestingly enough, Chavez Jr. is included in the lawsuit. A picture that he posted on his Instagram account showed two checks from that night he lost to Fonfara. The post showed one check for 2.4 million dollars that was reported to the California Athletic State Commission and one check for 1.75 million from the company “Haymon Sports.”

The lawsuit explains, “The transaction could hardly be more explicit … paying the purse is a classic promoter responsibility, not the job of a true manager.”

The lawsuit also calls de facto promoters acting like front man promoters for Haymon as “Sham Promoters.” Although they are John Doe, promoters who have exclusively worked with Haymon have been DiBella Entertainment, Warriors Boxing, TGB Promotions, and Mayweather Promotions.

“While Haymon’s sham promoters may formally execute contracts with venues, sponsors, broadcasters, and other stakeholders, and may submit those contracts to state athletic commissions, they do not control the negotiations. Rather, Haymon directs everything himself.

“For decades, the boxing business earned a poor reputation because of some unsavory characters,’’ Petrocelli said in a prepared statement to Pugmire about the lawsuit. “Congress stepped in and enacted laws to clean up the industry. Top Rank is trying to ensure that Al Haymon and Waddell play by the same rules as everyone else.’’

As one cold war ends, another begins in boxing.