Kathy Duva Helped Pave the Way for Al Haymon’s NBC Sports Deal


    kathy-Duva_aca70 (1)We are so used to hearing Al Haymon thanked by his fighters during post-fight interviews. In fact, it happens so frequently that it has become a running joke amongst hardcore fans.

    However, when the opportunity came for Haymon himself to take the mic and give thanks to all of the promoters, fighters, and networks that he used and manipulated on his way to the NBC deal, which was announced on Wednesday morning at a press conference in New York, he declined to speak altogether.

    It isn’t surprising, but it still leaves a sour taste in the mouths of fans that can’t be easily bought off by one card with an above average main event and a half decent co-feature, not to mention the middle finger Haymon offered up in the form of Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson as the main event of the second NBC show. To my surprise, some fans seem happy about the fight, but the truth is Garcia-Peterson is an average fight with little implications that should’ve been offered to us last year in place of the Rod Salka debacle.

    Haymon should’ve apologized to Golden Boy, Showtime, and the fans. Now he is banking on our interests and loyalty to help save his investment.

    We aren’t going to get apologies from Haymon, and the way he conducts his business is his prerogative. That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be thankful to those that paved the way for him.

    Haymon probably has too much pride, or too much of an ego, to thank anyone, but that doesn’t mean he has no one to thank.

    The reality of this NBC deal started with Kathy Duva and her efforts. Duva’s Main Events didn’t just help to bring boxing back to network TV, her promotional outfit took boxing from an afterthought to a viable reality for NBC.

    After a successful three year run on the network, her NBC deal was yanked from underneath her feet. In a New York Yankees kind of way, Haymon used his money and influence to syphon all the momentum created by Duva. Duva did things with a smaller budget, but she was still effective. The Main Events’ cards offered up on NBC were incredibly entertaining, and she did it with a budget that can be compared to Adrien Broner’s next purse.

    Duva is one of the last few respectable figures left in boxing. She is someone I admire, and not just because of all her efforts to make boxing a respectable sport based on a strict adherence to competitive equality, but because Kathy’s character is based upon the utmost esteem and authenticity.

    For every disservice and underhanded dealings she has had to endure at the hands of Haymon himself, Duva offers no ill will and has publicly stated that she wishes Haymon the best of luck because she knows his success is what’s best for boxing.

    “For the sake of my business, I hope [Haymon] does well,” Duva told Thaboxingvoice’s Nestor Gibbs.

    Duva may be polite, but she is also tough and candid. She doesn’t mind speaking the truth, and not her version of the truth, but a truth carved by rationality. Duva knows that her success has helped Haymon and she can take satisfaction from that truth.

    “I’m very proud of the fact that throughout our three years with NBC Fight Night we managed to convince the people who run NBC Sports that boxing should be one of the tent-poles of their sports programming. Al wouldn’t have been able to make this deal had I not done that.”

    Kathy didn’t just help Haymon to realize his aspirations, she paved the way for other fighters to realize their own potentials using NBC/NBCSN as the platform for building and rejuvenating careers.

    At least twenty fighters that were first featured on NBC Fight Night went on to premium cable or PPV. She built stars out of Sergey Kovalev and Bryant Jennings. Duva used NBCSN to showcase Chris Algieri. And perhaps the most inspiring story is that of Gabe Rosado, who went from a forgotten entity to Showtime and HBO’s go to guy when a hard-nosed and entertaining opponent was needed.

    Duva knows that her three years had an impact on many fighters’ careers, and she is aware of the fact that Haymon has her to thank for his own NBC deal. Now, she hopes that Haymon’s success will have a positive effect on boxing as a whole, thus creating a demand that will help other promotions, Main Events included.

    “I’m proud of what we did, our goal was to make boxing more mainstream. If [Haymon] is able to take what we built and build on it and make boxing more mainstream, God bless him. If more people become interested in boxing [then] more people are going to tune in to watch a really quality [show] on March 14th on HBO because if people like boxing they’re not going to just watch it on one channel. I hope everybody likes the fights.”

    Duva is quick to thank her matchmaker Jolene Mizzone and Russell Peltz, who where also very involved in the success Main Events had on NBC, because that’s the kind of person she is. She is confident in her team’s ability to build for the future.

    Duva is working with HBO and has taken her made stars to the network in hopes of even brighter days, but she is still interested in building the next generation. It isn’t clear where Main Events will land in terms of fighter development on another network, but right now she is focused on Kovalev’s next defense against Jean Pascal on HBO, which is the best fight in the light heavyweight division when you consider the fact that Adonis Stevenson has no interests in real competition.

    Regardless, Duva will find something else because she works too hard and she has the kind of work ethic that isn’t easily deterred.

    “Ever since USA Network took boxing off the air I have been constantly searching for another outlet, that’s kind of the normal state of my existence. It was wonderful to have three years where I didn’t have to worry, but we’re back to business as normal and we’re always looking and we’ll find something, we always do.”