Golden Boy Goes for the Jugular

By Robert Ecksel on May 6, 2015
Golden Boy Goes for the Jugular
Strong-arm tactics and consolidating power are as much about boxing as a broken nose.

“I thought I’d seen every trick in the book,” said B-Hop, “aimed at undermining those who step into the ring…”

Boxing is a contact sport. In that spirit, Golden Boy Promotions filed a $300 million lawsuit today in Los Angeles Federal Court against Al Haymon, alleging repeated violation of the antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.

According to a statement issued by Golden Boy, “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.’”

Exploitation, like much else, is in the eye of the beholder, and those beholden to Al Haymon have no complaints. The fighters are well paid. They are getting national exposure. Boxing is back on regular TV. Many of the PBC fights left something to be desired, but when has that not been the case?

“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,” De La Hoya said. “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.”

Bernard Hopkins, aka Golden Boy East, seconded the emotion.

“At the age of 50 and after spending most of my adult life in boxing,” said Hopkins, “I thought I’d seen every trick in the book aimed at undermining those who actually step into the ring. 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.”

The Ali Act was instituted to “protect boxers, the boxing industry, and the public from abusive, exploitive, and anticompetitive behavior.” Al Haymon, a visionary to some, the devil incarnate to others, has rattled the power structure. He is also, according to the lawsuit, acting as manager and promoter, which the Ali Act forbids, even though “advisor” is the term used most often to describe him. Were that not enough, Haymon even has plans to create his own sanctioning body, another no-no, but much like the Ring belts awarded to Golden Boy fighters.

Boxing is many things. One thing it is not is democratic. Strong-arm tactics and consolidating power are as much about boxing as a broken nose. At the moment, Al Haymon is the man. Before that it was Golden Boy and Bob Arum. Before that it was Don King and James Norris and Frankie Carbo and Tex Ricard. The list is long, if not always distinguished.

Touch gloves…and may the best man win.

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