March 21, 2017
Al Haymon’s attorneys filed its Bill of Costs with the court in the antitrust lawsuit brought by Golden Boy Boxing. As the prevailing party at the trial court level, its entitled to its costs which is slightly under $35,000 but they may not see this amount.
Golden Boy filed a Notice of Appeal to the Federal Circuit Court as the trial court dismissed its lawsuit against Al Haymon in February. Under Federal Rule 54(d)(1), legal costs (not attorney legal fees) should be allowed to a prevailing party. The costs include almost $30,000 in deposition costs for the lawsuit which lasted a year and a half.
In addition to the legal costs it incurred during the lawsuit, Golden Boy might be hit with $35,000 it will need to pay Haymon. Of course, even if there was not an appeal, Golden Boy probably would have disputed this amount. Since it is going to be appealed, Haymon might have the right to recoup this fee plus attorney fees if it wins on appeal. If the trial court decision is overturned, it will likely see none of this amount.
January 26, 2017
Judge John Walter issued an order granting Al Haymon’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles on May 5, 2015. The case was set to go to trial in March.
In his 25-page opinion filed on Thursday, Judge Walter determined that Golden Boy did not come forth with genuine issues of fact to support its claims that Haymon’s promotion, Premier Boxing Champions, foreclosed the market on boxers and other promotions among other antitrust violations. Moreover, it determined that Golden Boy’s injury “was caused by conduct that was beneficial to competition in the promotion market.”
The judge noted that Haymon’s business strategy actually helped boxing with more televised matches and better pay for fighters.
The opinion noted that the tv strategy of securing deals with multiple networks implemented by PBC did not foreclose all networks. It also pointed to the fact that Golden Boy expert’s did not provide an examination of recoupment of money of PBC’s purported strategy of “flipping” its business model from tv buys to securing license fees.
It also was not persuaded by Golden Boy’s claims of “sham” promoters that aided PBC nor the alleged “firewall” between promoters and managers. The court found no evidence that boxers were coerced into working with promoters. Moreover, the judge noted that PBC worked with other promoters. In the latter claim, the Judge wrote that there was no antitrust injury because there was no standing. Only boxers and governmental agencies may make the claim per the Ali Act.
In its conclusion, it noted that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.
— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) January 27, 2017
In reading the opinion, one might be concerned with the UFC antitrust lawsuit. The court stressed the issue that antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors. Despite the speculation that Haymon’s PBC attempted to foreclose the market on competitors, there was no evidence found by the court which conflicted with antitrust laws. The court determined that Golden Boy did not define the relevant markets and did not establish a “tie in” or “tie out” which may have been a violation of antitrust laws. Based on the opinion, it is unlikely that Golden Boy appeals this decision.
January 20, 2017
Golden Boy Promotions and ESPN have entered into an agreement to air the promotion’s fights on the sports network according to ESPN. The first of 42 fights will begin airing in March.
The events will take place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights which will mark a return to boxing on ESPN.
Tecate will sponsor the series which will air on ESPN2 and be simulcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. The agreement has scheduled 18 fights in 2017 and 24 in 2018. There is an option for a third year.
Notably, the ESPN article indicates that the exclusivity provision with ESPN and PBC was eliminated as part of the settlement with Top Rank Boxing’s antitrust lawsuit last year. Golden Boy’s lawsuit against Al Haymon continues with a pending motion for summary judgment yet to be decided. The trial is set for March, the week prior to the debut of Golden Boy on ESPN.
This is a good sign for boxing with increased exposure for Golden Boy’s stable of fighters. It also brings into the question of the whether Premier Boxing Champions will return to ESPN this year. The deal will rely on sponsors than a license fee and we can see Tecate as a presenting sponsor with others to help fund the series.
January 12, 2017
The Al Haymon-Golden Boy antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles is set for trial on March 14, 2017 if the court does not grant the defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
For a good refresher on what this case is about and the gist of the motion, you can read Paul Gift’s synopsis last month. We take a deeper dive in the legal issues of the motion below.
An oral argument for the motion was taken off calendar (i.e., cancelled) by the court this past November 28th. As of this date, there has been no ruling issued by the trial court. Realistically, there is no timeline for the court to render a ruling on the motion except for the fact that there would likely be an opinion prior to trial documents needing to be filed with the court.
Haymon’s Motion for Summary Judgment
Haymon’s attorneys, and the attorneys for his entities that were also sued in this litigation argue that Golden Boy failed to establish a triable issue of fact of its attempted monopolization. It essentially argues that there is no evidence of specific intent for a monopoly, Golden Boy failed to identify any anticompetitive or predatory conduct and Golden Boy misconstrues the concept of antitrust injury.
One of the claims set forth by GBP is that Al Haymon should be held individually liable for violation of the antitrust laws. Haymon attorneys assert that Haymon could not be liable of antitrust injury because individual liability requires “inherently wrongful” conduct, a per se violation. Haymon argues that attempted monopolization is not properly evaluated as a per se antitrust violation.
In an antitrust case, there are two ways a court looks at whether there is a violation of the antitrust laws. The first is a “per se” violation and the second is the “rule of reason.” Per se relates to conduct that is manifestly anticompetitive with limited potential for procompetitive benefit. The rule of reason is the presumptive or default standard and the general standard it examines whether the procompetitive benefits outweigh the anticompetitive effect.
“Inherent conduct” is equated to a “per se” violation by Haymon. In its moving papers, they state that courts have regularly dismissed claims against corporate officers in cases dealing with conduct that is permitted or even encouraged by the antitrust laws. Here, the argument is that Haymon and his entities did not do anything wrong.
It also argues an “even if” scenario providing the hypothetical that if a court were to analyze the tying claim as a “per se” claim it would fail on the merits. It first argues that there is no tie in the first place. Haymon points out the similar Top Rank lawsuit in citing that Top Rank failed to prove as a matter of law that the two distinct services of promotion and managing were tied together. The clause in the contract that is questioned is the provision that requires consent to enter into contracts. However, Haymon’s attorneys point to the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight in May 2016 as an example of interpromotional fight making. Also, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao case is another example which reflected the opportunity for a contracted Haymon fighter to work with another promoter. Thus, the examples show that the contracts do not foreclose other promoters.
Haymon argues that the market described by GBP are artificial and are “illogical, divorced from the reality of the boxing industry, and fail to satisfy GBP’s burden to establish coherent markets in which the Defendants could possibly have market power.” It states that “Championship-Caliber Boxers,” the market described by GBP in its lawsuit is not a recognized industry term. Haymon attorneys identify the fact that the term was interpreted differently by multiple people within the boxing industry. They also argue that GBP has not shown that there are barriers to entry in the markets for which they define.
Golden Boy Theory of Antitrust Injury
As you might recall Golden Boy brought a lawsuit against Al Haymon and his entities illegal tying of its managerial and promotional services.
As we wrote:
The lawsuit claims that Haymon, et. al have created a “tying” relationship in violation of antitrust laws. This is done through agreements affecting to separate relevant markets. The first market is for management of Championship-Caliber Boxers and the market for promoters. As described in the Complaint, the management market is the “tying” market whereas the promotion market is the “tied” market. Essentially, the fact that Haymon manages so many fighters it affects the promotions market since he has exercised control over the direction of each fighters’ career.
Tying under Section 1 of the Sherman Act must show:
- There is evidence of a tie;
- There is evidence “of coercion” of purchasers to buy products or services;
- There is evidence of market power in a properly defined market.
Golden Boy opposes the motion on the grounds that Al Haymon is personally liable for antitrust injury. It suggests that the standard for individual antitrust liability is met when an officer knowingly approves to each element of a claim whether or not the claim involves “inherently wrong” conduct. It also states that it has ample evidence to support their tying claim as Haymon tied their management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services in favor of their own. Also, it rebuts the assertion by Haymon that it has fabricated the relevant market definition. It also contends that there are “significant barriers to entry” in the relevant markets. Finally, it states that the Haymon acted as promotes as well as managers.
GBP claims that issues of fact exist as it relates to the evidence of exclusionary contracts which “tie out” others. It also claims that its expert’s testimony provides ample evidence of the markets in the industry and that they are controlled by Haymon.
In its opposition to the motion for summary judgment, GBP argues that Haymon’s model of paying supracompetitive sums is not a “rational business model, unless there is to be a payoff.” The “payoff” as concluded by GBP is the monopoly of the boxing promotion business, controlling the television market for boxing and “invoking supracompetitive pricing once dominance is obtained.”
The opposition points to “draconian exclusionary terms” in contracts which give Haymon Sports control over all aspects of the boxer’s career and a veto right over all boxing related contracts. In its pleadings, Haymon does admit that a “standard management agreement gives it the right to approve the boxer’s selection of promoter, it has never exercised this right to require or coerce its boxers to use or not use a particular promoter.” This seems to negate, but confirm terms within the Haymon boxing management contract that reflects control over the boxer’s selection of promoter.
GBP also argues that Haymon has a tying arrangement in which one must refrain from accepting another product. Here, GBP contend that Haymon tied his management services to the rejection of competitors’ promotion services. They suggest that fighters under contract with Haymon know that they cannot work with other promoters outside of Haymon. GBP indicates that this is a triable issue of fact that would
The standard on a motion for summary judgment is to weigh all of the pleadings and facts within and weigh them in the “light most favorable to the non-moving party (in this case GBP).” If the court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact, it will grant a dismissal as a matter of law. However, a court will deny a motion for summary judgment if there are pending issues of fact.
Whether or not Haymon could be individually liable will be an issue the court will need to determine based on the facts provided and the legal arguments made by the parties. While Haymon’s attorneys argue that personal liability cannot be assessed in these matters, Golden Boy argues that case law supports the contention that Haymon is personally liable. As for the business model, the fighter contracts will be an issue for the court to consider as well as GBP’s expert testimony which addresses the relevant markets.
Once a decision is rendered, MMA Payout will let you know
September 22, 2016
Lance Pugmire of The LA Times reports that the early information for the buy rate of the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith PPV last Saturday drew less than 300,000 buys.
Alvarez stopped Smith in the 9th Round before a packed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Canelo drew 450,000 PPV buys against Amir Khan this past May. Prior to that, he drew 900,000 PPV buys against Miguel Cotto in November 2015.
Earlier this month, it was reported that July’s Terrence Crawford-Viktor Postol fight drew between 50,000-60,000 PPV buys.
The buy rate may have something to do with Canelo’s opponent but reflects the fact that he has yet to be the breakout PPV star that boxing wants and needs. In the UFC, certain fighters can emit PPV buys regardless of their opponent. Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey come to mind here. Is boxing different? Canelo as a huge fan base as seen by the over 50,000 that attended the fight. But, he cannot draw PPV buys on name alone based on these numbers. It will be interesting to see what he does next as he waits for an eventual GGG showdown.
July 30, 2016
The lawyers for Golden Boy have requested a continuance in the antitrust trial against Al Haymon. The date, originally set for the end of January 2017, is going to be pushed to March if the court agrees with the unopposed motion.
A declaration by Golden Boy’s lead counsel, Bertram Fields, requests that the trial date set for January 31, 2017 is continued until March 13, 2017. The reason being is that Fields is teaching a class at Stanford Law School during winter quarter. He advised the court that it would include the need for Fields, who practices law in Los Angeles, to fly to Palo Alto each week to teach.
Notably, Fields states in his declaration that the court had advised that the entire case should take just 4 court days to complete while Golden Boy believes that the case is a complex antitrust case that would take at least 10 court days to complete. He states in his declaration that even his original estimate of 10 days may have been conservative.
The motion went unopposed according to Golden Boy’s court filing and if this is correct, it pushes the date to at least March 2017. This probably give Haymon some extra time and something in their pocket to use if they need to request something from Golden Boy or the court. Fields, the savvy lawyer that he is, includes some argument in his own declaration to contend the need for extra time.
June 14, 2016
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will have to pay $8.5 million to his former promoter, All-Star Boxing for unjust enrichment after a trial in Miami-Dade County. Although Golden Boy Promotions was sued in the lawsuit, the jury did not assess a verdict against it. However, per the LA Times, it stated that Alvarez will appeal the verdict.
All-Star Boxing owner Felix “Tuto” Zabala, Jr. stated that he did it for the dignity of his business and that “[y]ou must respect contracts.” Zabala claimed that Alvarez breached a contract in which he had 3 more years left when he signed with Golden Boy. The promotion also claimed unjust enrichment on the part of Alvarez which eventually was the reason the jury awarded the amount.
Golden Boy was sued for tortious interference with a contract.
Per BoxingScene.com, Alvarez claimed that the contract he signed with All-Star Boxing was in English and the terms to him were unclear.
The verdict ends, for now, a lawsuit that was filed in 2011. All-Star Boxing offered to settle the lawsuit for $5 million but that was rejected by Golden Boy.
Golden Boy issued a statement that despite Canelo’s verdict, All-Star Boxing will have to pay attorney fees for Golden Boy. This is due to the fact the jury found no contract between Alvarez and Golden Boy per a Golden Boy spokesperson. Presumably, since the jury did not find any wrongdoing on the part of Golden Boy, All-Star Boxing must pay for the promotion’s attorney’s fees. All-Star Boxing refutes this claim.
As the LA Times points out, even though Canelo was assessed the verdict, it is not clear whether the fighter added an indemnification clause in his contract which would have the promotion cover expenses in legal matters. This would probably be the reason why Golden Boy will likely appeal the judgment. The fact pattern as it seems is an example of the reasons why the Muhammad Ali Act is in place: a dispute over a prolonged contractual obligation, a claim that a promotional agreement was signed under duress and a breach of contract. Although this part of the dispute may be over, we will likely see an appeal.
May 19, 2016
The parties in the Top Rank Boxing v. Al Haymon, et al. lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles has been settled. The parties filed a joint stipulation to dismiss the case on Wednesday. Terms of the settlement are confidential per the stipulation filed with the court.
Al Haymon and his various business entities were sued by Top Rank Boxing this past July as the promoter claimed that Haymon’s upstart Premier Boxing Champions violated federal antitrust laws as well the Muhammad Ali Act and California State Business Regulations.
Perhaps what precipitated the beginning of the end of this litigation was securing the opportunity to obtain documents (including financial information) from promoter Lou DiBella and his company DiBella Entertainment, Inc. It was claimed by Top Rank that DiBella was a “sham promoter” essentially working for Haymon.
Another theory which may have caused the two sides to settle would be the downturn of PBC. Ratings have been sluggish and reports of PBC seeping money seems valid. Also, investors filed a lawsuit in Kansas over a fund’s strategy to invest in PBC. Settling this lawsuit may negate the hefty legal bills the company is racking up.
A similar lawsuit filed by Golden Boy against Haymon continues in Los Angeles with discovery ongoing.
It will be interesting to see how much further the Golden Boy lawsuit goes. If they are to obtain documents from other promoters (like DiBella) in discovery, it could leverage into a favorable settlement. It is unknown if PBC would run the risk of continuing with defending this lawsuit if there is the possibility of losing a huge verdict.
May 13, 2016
There are conflicting reports on the PPV buys for the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight this past Saturday. ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports the fight drew around 600,000 PPV buys according to Golden Boy’s Oscar de la Hoya. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports indicates that it drew 460,000 PPV buys based on information from cable and satellite companies.
Alvarez knocked out Khan in the 6th round in the feature bout from Vegas.
The Rafael accounting comes from Golden Boy and HBO from satellite services and basing them on historical figures. The 600,000 figure is not a final number but appears to be a good initial estimate on how the event fared.
Iole notes that 145,000 PPV purchased from DirecTV, “about 230,000 on cable and about 60,000 on Dish Network. The other buys were from other companies such as Verizon Fios per Iole.
Alvarez, the true featured fighter from Saturday night, drew 900,000 PPV buys for his fight last November against Miguel Cotto.
It’s not fair to compare the PPV buys to last May’s “superfight” between Mayweather and Pacquiao. As we know, the “retirement” fights for both fighters drew between 400-500K PPV buys. Depending on who you believe, the 600K PPV buys is a very good draw considering that Khan is a “name” for an opponent but there was truly no real threat. If you believe the 460,000 number, it might be a little low for a fighter that Golden Boy/HBO hopes to propel them in a post-Pac/May PPV boxing market.
January 7, 2016
2015 was a big year for boxing. It featured the start of a new organization, a return to network television, litigation (of course), controversy and the long-awaited fight people waited years to see.
Mayweather-Pacquiao was the dream matchup that came several years too late. Still, the fight reaped the rewards due the brand names of its participants. At a $100 pay per view price point, it was guaranteed to compete for the De La Hoya-Mayweather buy mark. It far exceeded the 2.1 million PPV buys as the unique co-promotion between Showtime and HBO drew 4.4 million PPV buys.
The gate at the MGM Grand was an enormous $72 million as there were few, if any, comps for this event.
The fight itself was not exciting at all and widely criticized. Post-fight, Pacquiao admitted to having a shoulder injury and his camp placed blame on the NAC for not allowing him to take an injection they thought was allowable.
The news of the injured shoulder sparked outrage and litigation as a variety of lawsuits were filed against Pacquiao, HBO, Showtime, Top Rank and almost everyone else in the vicinity.
Mayweather came under scrutiny later in the year as a piece written for SB Nation by Thomas Hauser indicated that the undefeated fighter was allowed a TUE to rehydrate after weigh-ins the Friday before the fight. The Hauser piece drew the ire of USADA, the third party regulatory body that oversaw the testing for the event.
Mayweather fought one more time in September and announced his retirement. His fight against Andre Berto drew the lowest PPV buy rate under his Showtime contract.
Bob Arum announced that Manny Pacquiao’s April 2016 fight will be his last. It was recently announced that he will fight Tim Bradley for the third time.
Another big event occurring in 2015 was the advent of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). PBC was all over the networks this year. It forged deals with SpikeTV, Showtime, NBC Sports Network, Fox, FS1, Bounce TV, ESPN, CBS and NBC. The return to network television was a big event as it drew 3.13M viewers in March. In April, it drew 2.9M viewers. But since the nice starts, the boxing cards rarely make a dent in viewership.
Spike TV also made boxing a part of its “Friday Night Lights Out” promotion which started in March. Similar to other PBC events, they ratings have decreased since its debut.
|PBC on Spike|
The other big business story occurring in boxing in 2015 was the two antitrust lawsuits filed by Top Rank and Golden Boy against Al Haymon and his business partners in federal court in Los Angeles. The Golden Boy lawsuit (a detailed review here) was filed in May and the Top Rank lawsuit was filed in July. Both lawsuits are similar in nature as they claim that Al Haymon’s strategy violates antitrust laws.
An April 2015, a Sports Business Journal article on the finances of PBC may have been a driver toward these lawsuit. Obviously, one article does not decide whether or not an organization is willing to delve hundreds of thousands of dollars into a lawsuit which may impact the industry of professional boxing, but it did shed light on how Haymon (who is still a very private individual) and how he runs his business.
The lawsuit is still in its initial stages after several attempts by Haymon to dismiss both lawsuits. In the Golden Boy lawsuit, he sought a stay of the lawsuit pending the results of an arbitration.
Haymon did win a motion to dismiss the Top Rank lawsuit this past fall. However, the court allowed Top Rank to amend its complaint and re-file. And, a subsequent attempt to dismiss the amended complaint was denied by the court this past Wednesday.
We will see where this lawsuit heads in the coming year.
Although Wladmir Klitschko lost his heavyweight title in 2015, he drew the largest rating on HBO for boxing since 2012 when he made a rare New York City title defense this past April. His upset loss to Tyson Fury drew over 1 million HBO viewers this past November.