Top Rank latest promoter to file suit against Al Haymon

Kevin Iole
Boxing
Top Rank latest promoter to file suit against Al Haymon
Top Rank latest promoter to file suit against Al Haymon

The lawsuits against Al Haymon continue to arrive at a dizzying rate.

Powerful Las Vegas-based Top Rank joined the ever-expanding ranks of promoters that have filed suit against Haymon, filing an antitrust suit in federal court in California. The suit also named Waddell & Reed, an asset management company that invested more than $400 million into the Premier Boxing Champions series created by Haymon, as a defendant.

In May, Golden Boy filed a similar suit against Haymon. Last year, Bad Dog Productions sued Haymon and alleged antitrust violations in a case involving super lightweight Rances Barthelemy. Barthelemy recently defeated Antonio DeMarco in a fight put on by Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions that was televised on CBS.

Haymon was supposed to give a deposition in the Bad Dog Productions case on Tuesday in Florida, but BDP attorney Jorge L. Fors Jr. told Yahoo Sports that Haymon was ill and postponed the deposition.

Haymon does not speak to the media and couldn't be reached for comment on Top Rank's case. Top Rank's suit says of him, "Operating in the shadows, he has no website, avoids being photographed, and famously runs his empire from an old school flip phone. For years, Haymon refused to acknowledge that he even had an office. Now, armed with nearly half a billion dollars from a Kansas City-based investment fund, Haymon and Defendant Waddell & Reed are 'making a play to take over boxing' – law, fair competition, and fighters' rights be damned."

Al Haymon, center, laughs during a fight. (Getty)
Al Haymon, center, laughs during a fight. (Getty)

In April, the Association of Boxing Commissions wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and urged her to investigate Haymon's business practices. Last month, Boxing Insider reported that the chairman of the California State Athletic Commission said Haymon had been blocking venues in Southern California from other promoters.

In its lawsuit, Top Rank alleged that Haymon is violating the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act by serving as both a manager and a promoter. To support that allegation, it posted a photo that boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. posted, and later deleted, to the social media website Instagram.

It was a photo of a handwritten check from Haymon Sports LLC to Chavez's company for $1.75 million. The memo line of the check reads "Purse 4/18/15." Chavez fought Andrzej Fonfara at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., on that night.

"The transaction could hardly be more explicit – Haymon paid nearly $2 million of Chavez Jr.'s 'purse' for the bout against Fonfara," attorney Daniel Petrocelli wrote in Top Rank's lawsuit. "Paying the purse is a classic promoter's responsibility, not the job of a true manager. Tellingly, Chavez Jr.'s Instagram post was removed minutes after it appeared on the Internet site."

The suit also accused Haymon of blocking venues, as per the Boxing Insider report. It noted that Haymon would reserve an arena, such as Staples Center in Los Angeles or The Forum in Ingelwood, Calif., and hold them until after competitors had to put their fight in a different, and theoretically less desirable, venue.

It also accused Haymon of illegally inducing boxers to enter contracts that prevent them from "freely contracting with legitimate promoters."

The PBC has contracts to televise fights on NBC, CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and Spike, and its fighters also appear regularly on Showtime. Top Rank alleged in the suit that Haymon blocks legitimate promoters from being able to put fights on television "through exclusive dealing, overbooking, and other unlawful means."

Top Rank is the primary supplier of fights on HBO, and also has a deal to broadcast fights on TruTV.

The suit also alleged that because of Haymon's violations of the Ali Act, "he enjoys an unfair and illegal advantage over legitimate boxing promoters. ... Legitimate boxing promoters must comply with extensive regulatory requirements at both the federal and state level. But since Haymon operates in the shadows, he does not comply with these laws and regulations – to the detriment of boxers, legitimate promoters, and ultimately the viewing public."

Haymon's attorney, Barry H. Burke, issued the following statement to Yahoo Sports in regards to the lawsuit:

"The lawsuit filed today by Bob Arum and Top Rank is entirely without merit and is a cynical attempt by boxing's old guard to use the courts to undermine the accessibility, credibility and exposure of boxing that the sport so desperately needs.

"The Premier Boxing Champions series makes boxing free again, by bringing championship boxing to free TV, with a fighter-first promise and a commitment to the fans to restore boxing to the luster of its heyday. The continued success of this effort will far outlast this baseless lawsuit."

 

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