With Top Rank Lawsuit, Now It’s Al Haymon Who’s Surrounded

Earlier this year, when influential boxing manager Al Haymon began securing broadcast arrangements with every channel on the dial, traditional boxing power HBO looked surrounded. Now, with yet another lawsuit against Haymon dropping Wednesday, it’s Haymon who looks like it’s him against the world.

Promoter Top Rank joined the legal pursuit of Haymon over his alleged abuse of the Muhammad Ali Act and monopolistic practices, alongside Golden Boy Promotions (which also had filed a lawsuit) and the Association of Boxing Commissions (which had requested Justice Department investigation). [Oh, and also in the fight against Haymon is a smaller promoter, whose case was to feature a Haymon deposition recently, but he called in sick, which, hmmmm.]

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to Haymon et al, and if it does, he needs better lawyers. Haymon Sports hasn’t exactly been subtle in trying to take over the sport. Some leaks have sprung, too, in the formidably controlled operation, things that look like mistakes: Top Rank’s lawsuit mentions how Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. posted a check from Haymon Sports, which can easily be interpreted of a violation of the Ali Act’s separation of responsibilities for managers and promoters. And just recently, a top California State Athletic Commission official went public, on the record, saying flatly that Haymon had been improperly blocking promoters from using venues in Cali; this kind of blockage also is discussed in the lawsuit.

But maybe this is all part of the plan. The Haymon blueprint does seem to call for taking massive financial losses and pushing boundaries, knowing that the Waddell & Reed investment firm has given them a multi-year commitment and a huge cash reservoir to work from.

As always, for now, we just kind of have to make educated guesses what Haymon’s thinking. Haymon’s refusal to speak publicly means that we’re only going to get answers to the lawsuit through one of two ways: 1. surrogates, like middleweight Peter Quillin or promoter Lou DiBella; and 2. in court. One of the things that was enticing about last year’s Main Events lawsuit is that we’d get some discovery, some forced transparency, from Haymon. Whether the suit — eventually dropped — was justified or not, for people who want to understand what’s going on in ultra-opaque Haymonworld, it had the chance to be a smorgasbord.

As with the Golden Boy lawsuit and the alphabet belt gang hitching a ride on the ABC complaint, there are ways this could boomerang on Top Rank and make them look like hypocrites. And some of its claims are weakened by the fact that it just worked with Haymon on the richest fight of all time, Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, less than two months ago.

Let’s see if Top Rank sticks out its grievance more than Main Events did, and more than Golden Boy did in an earlier iteration. But for now, after years of ever-shifting Cold War featuring Golden Boy/Haymon/Top Rank as key players, we’re looking at a monumental all-out World War in boxing breaking out.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.