I have been a hardcore boxing fan who has loved the sport since I was 4. I grew up in a era where fighters fought mandatory title defenses, when guys had to fight their way up the proverbial ladder to get a shot at a belt. The belts where a symbol of exellence and hardwork and they meant something. Now from a distance I hear fans fed up with “boxing politics.” And when I watch these fights and hear interviews, one name consistently is brought up: Al Haymon.
I had never heard of him until Mosley vs. Forrest, but I had only known of him being a special adviser or manager to the fighters until recently. Now when I hear the term “manager” I’m reminded of my days in the music business when I was in a singing group trying to get signed to a record label. We had a manager and all he did was set us up with possible dates and gigs, and negotiate how much money we were supposed to get for performing. We understood our manager or agent got a fee or fixed percentage. His job was to get us as much possible exposure so we could get the opportunity to make more money. A manager has to have the mindset of getting the best for his clients, regardless of anybody else or the industry as a whole. So being reminded of this caused me to think of how managers or agents changed the landscapes of the sports their clients are involved in. Scott Boras is a example of one who negotiated huge record-breaking deals for his clients like Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez that raised the bar for wages in that industry. Eventually teams didn’t like to draft or deal with players represented by Boras which in turn hurt his players at times and caused baseball to change the rules, so that smaller market teams could afford the higher minimum wage salaries. Scott Boras was in sense good for the players but bad for baseball.
But the thing about baseball is that it is regulated and unified, so owners and general managers caught on to this and rallied to change the rules. Rules that changed how Boras had to now approach the sport. Now Al Haymon is in the business of getting the best for his clients but with boxing divided, who will rally to change the industry? With the staggering reports of signing new fighters to manage, alleged under the table payouts, people believe Al Haymon is trying to take over boxing. His fighters love him, promoters hate him, and his impact is felt in the sport. Fans understand that boxers fight for money. Al Haymon’s job is maximize that. Even at the expense of the sport. The only way this will change is when the owners, or the networks change the rules for him. Until then we will just have to wonder what that plan is. We know Al Haymon has an investment team and strategy. We just dont know who the investment really benefits. Super-Agents are good for the athlete but bad for the sport. Football changed because of the agents for the better. Basketball changed, hockey changed, and baseball changed. Now its time for boxing to change. Hopefully for the better.