July 27, 2015
Arbitration briefs have been filed in the Al Haymon-Golden Boy case in which Haymon’s attorneys are seeking to stay the court case claiming that an arbitrator should decide the promotion’s grievances against Haymon and his business entities. Arbitrator Daniel Weinstein is set to hear the parties’ arguments on July 29th.
Golden Boy argues in its brief to the Arbitrator that it does not have jurisdiction over the federal claims it filed against Haymon and his business entities this past May. It states that the parties’ agreement was not “clearly and unmistakably” granting authority to arbitrate its particular dispute outlined in the May 5 lawsuit. In addition, it states that Bernard Hopkins, a party to the lawsuit, is not a party to the Settlement Agreement signed by Golden Boy last December which Haymon’s attorneys claim negate GB and Hopkins’ federal claims which include Antitrust and Ali Act violations. Hopkins is a plaintiff in the Golden Boy lawsuit. Even if the Arbtirator claims that he has jurisdiction over the parties, Golden Boy argues that the federal claims are not within the arbitration clause and that the arbitration provision does not cover the term’s end.
The overall suggestion here is that the federal claims cannot be decided by an Arbitrator because the claims were never waived in the Settlement Agreement and/or the release of claims were not arbitrable.
In its opening arbitration brief which includes several sections that are redacted, Haymon’s attorneys argue that the Arbitrator has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether the federal claims are subject to the December 2014 Settlement Agreement executed between Haymon and Golden Boy. It argues that Golden Boy has come up with the date of January 1, 2015 to “plead around” the Settlement Agreement signed by the parties. Essentially, Haymon argues that the alleged monopoly and claimed violations of the Muhammad Ali Act existed on December 19, 2014. Thus, the Haymon camp claims that the claims relate to the Settlement Agreement entered into by Haymon and Golden Boy. As for Hopkins, it argues that he is a shareholder in GB and the argument that it was not a party to the Settlement Agreement falls flat.
Haymon’s attorneys stress that “there is no explanation for Golden Boy starting its federal claims on January 1, 2015.” This contention is in response to Golden Boy’s lawsuit which claims injuries sustained beginning on January 1, 2015. In its briefing, Haymon attorneys stress that it had signed a bulk of the 100 fighters prior to the December 19th Settlement Agreement. Thus, any sort of claim violating Antitrust laws or the Ali Act would have occurred prior to the parties entering into the Settlement Agreement.
Haymon’s attorneys also point to the broad release language in the Settlement Agreement in arguing that the release covers the present claims in the Golden Boy lawsuit. They argue that Golden Boy could have negotiated for terms within the Settlement Agreement that would have addressed the issues currently before them.
We could know this week whether one of the two Antitrust lawsuits filed against Al Haymon will be put on hold. One would think even with an Arbitrator ruling on jurisdiction, we will see an appeal by one of the sides. It’s clear that the ruling will hinge on the language within the Settlement Agreement regarding the arbitration of the agreement. We will keep you updated.
July 8, 2015
Attorneys for Al Haymon are seeking to stay the lawsuit filed by Golden Boy Boxing arguing that arbitration in the matter between Haymon and Golden Boy is pending. Thus, the issues brought up by Golden Boy in its lawsuit may be resolved by the end of July.
The motion seeks to put on hold the lawsuit filed by Golden Boy on May 5th citing Haymon violates portions of the Muhammad Ali Act, antitrust laws and state laws in California. Haymon’s attorneys state that by July 29, 2015, an Arbitrator will rule on whether all of the claims in the Golden Boy lawsuit have been released pursuant to a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release (“Settlement Agreement”).
Taking a step back, Haymon and Golden Boy entered into the Settlement Agreement which would sever its business relationship. According to court documents, the Settlement Agreement was signed by the parties (including Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya) on December 18-19, 2014 and exercised by Haymon on January 8, 2015. According to Haymon, it was a “global” settlement of all issues between the parties. Haymon made “a substantial payment to Golden Boy” which Golden Boy accepted when the parties decided to end its business relationship. The Settlement includes an arbitration provision which would require that the parties be subject to an Arbitrator rather than litigate the matter in court.
According to the motion, a Sports Illustrated article leaked to the press on April 28, 2015 regarding a potential lawsuit to be filed by Golden Boy against Haymon sparked action by the PBC head’s legal team. Recognizing that the lawsuit might be filed soon, Haymon requested Arbitration under the Settlement Agreement on April 28th. Attorneys for Golden Boy filed counterclaims against Haymon. Golden Boy filed suit on May 5th.
The Settlement Agreement includes language preventing a financial audit of Haymon’s records.
Haymon attorneys state that the arbitration was filed before the May lawsuit and the Settlement Agreement includes an arbitration clause stating that the Arbitrator has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether the claims have been released. It cites the Federal Arbitration Act as the reason the court should stay the lawsuit. The Arbitrator will receive legal briefs on the issue on July 10th and a hearing before the Arbitrator will be held on July 29th.
The actual Settlement Agreement is attached to Al Haymon’s Declaration but it is heavily redacted preventing the public from reading the salacious details of the settlement.
The hearing on the motion to stay will be on August 10th in US District Court in Los Angeles.
While the court papers state that the Arbitrator will hear the arguments on July 29th, it’s not clear when a decision might be made. Although Haymon’s legal team will argue that the lawsuit is covered in the Arbitration agreement, it is not known when the Arbitrator would rule. Thus, aside from substantive legal issues, Golden Boy will argue that this is a stall tactic by Haymon avoiding litigating the lawsuit.
On July 6th, the court transferred the case filed by Top Rank against Al Haymon to the same judge that is handling the Golden Boy case. Even if the Golden Boy lawsuit is stayed, it still has the Top Rank filing ahead of it.
June 29, 2015
Bellator 139 drew an average viewership of 764,000 viewers on Spike TV Friday night per Sports TV Ratings. The event is down from its tent pole event of a week prior but it still was the second-best rating on the network since February.
In the main event of Friday night, former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo defeated Alexander Volkov. The other big news coming out of Bellator 139 was the KO of Joe Schilling by Hisaki Kato. Per Nielsen sources, the peak for the show was 988,000 viewers during the last quarter hour (10:45-11pm).
Bellator 137 pulls the promotion’s 2015 Spike TV average up to 800,000 viewers.
Sports TV ratings also notes that boxing on TruTV drew 303,000 viewers Friday night in the 10pm-12am slot. The TruTV fights are promoted primarily by Top Rank. Also, boxing on FS1 on Friday drew 129,000 viewers. The event on FS1 appears to be the last promoted by Golden Boy. Additionally, Showtime aired a prospect card Friday night although no information on the ratings were available at this time.
There were a lot of viewing options Friday night for combat sports enthusiasts but viewers tuned in to Bellator 139 which should be seen as a positive for the company and Spike. It’s interesting that it did so well the week after its tent pole event. The last tent pole event, Bellator 131, did not have a follow event the next week. In fact, the next Bellator event was not until January 2015. We could see more follow up events the week after to take advantage of the momentum.
In terms of boxing ratings, the TruTV ratings are surprising and it looks like Top Rank has found a nice way to promote its HBO fights the next night.
May 9, 2015
Golden Boy Promotions LLC and boxer Bernard Hopkins filed suit this week against Al Haymon and a variety of Haymon’s businesses and associates with respect to violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit paints the picture that many competitors have accused Haymon of for some time. He is attempting to monopolize professional boxing in the United States and drive out all competition. The lawsuit accuses Haymon of “blatantly” ignoring the “firewall” imposed by federal (specifically the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act) and state laws which preclude a manager also acting as a promoter for a fighter. The lawsuit claims that he has forbidden “hundreds of boxers” he manages from signing with another promoter.
The lawsuit names Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. and Waddell & Reed, Inc. as defendants that financed and aided Haymon through an investment fund that funded the boxing enterprise. Plaintiffs claim that these defendants provided more than $400 million dollars to finance Haymon.
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.
The Complaint filed by Bertram Fields of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machinger, LLP in LA states that Haymon acted as an unlicensed promoter. In fact, the Complaint cites an LA Times article which states that Haymon was the “main promoter” for the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. The scheme articulated by Plaintiffs is that Haymon is using his dominance in one business to “take over and monopolize another business that federal and state law prohibit them (Haymon, et. al) from even entering.”
Plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $100 million which, according to relevant statutory law, could lead to treble (3 times) damages. Thus, the lawsuit could be for more than $300 million. In addition, Golden Boy is seeking an injunction from Haymon’s continued promotion. This possibly could mean the severing of his multi-network affiliations with airing Premier Boxing Champions.
Perhaps not a coincidence, the Oscar de la Hoya led Golden Boy filed the lawsuit on Cinco de Mayo. Plaintiffs seek a jury trial.
We will have more on this in the weeks to come but if you were to compare this lawsuit to the one filed by the former UFC fighters, I would tend to believe that this antitrust claim has much more of a bite to it. Although it’s likely to sustain a Motion to Dismiss from Haymon’s lawyers, I think it has a better chance of making it to the discovery stage of the lawsuit. We shall see how this will go.
May 1, 2015
There are reasons why Al Haymon never speaks, one of those may be to prevent the threat of litigation. A recent article about Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions may bring on an antitrust lawsuit involving rival Golden Boy Promotions as chief plaintiff.
A recent Sports Business Journal article featured Haymon’s PBC and went over how funding was structured. Although Haymon did not provide comment for the article, factual information in it allegedly strengthened the argument that Haymon’s business model for PBC violates portions of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
A draft of the Complaint has been viewed by SI.com and it appears that Golden Boy Promotions is seeking a temporary restraining order and then a permanent injunction against his business practices that violate state and federal laws. It also requests monetary damages against Haymon.
The claim is that Haymon is using his monopoly as a boxing manager to create another monopoly for promoting TV fights.
Golden Boy is hush on if and when this lawsuit may be filed.
Notably, the SI article includes a letter dated April 28, 2015, from the Association of Boxing Commissions (“ABC”) to the Department of Justice in which it claims that Haymon is in violation of the Ali Act. Essentially, through his controlled companies Haymon is acting as manager and promoter which the ABC claims to be a violation of the “Firewall provision” of the Ali Act (specifically section 5(b) of the Act). ABC also calls into question the contracts Haymon fighters must sign. Essentially, ABC believes that they are in “restraint of trade” and “contrary to public policy” as the contracts exceed 12 months. A footnote in the letter notes that UFC, Bellator and other MMA promotions have this contractual model. It also notes that MMA is not covered by the Ali Act.
This will be an interesting lawsuit and with the Zuffa antitrust lawsuit ongoing, we can see some major waves happening in the business of combat sports. Haymon’s boxing business model is unique and received much scrutiny by rival promoters. There have been attempts in the past to sue Haymon but those were summarily dismissed and/or settled. If Haymon and PBC are sued, we may see some interesting information divulged from the factual discovery process in the lawsuit. It could also overturn the current wealth of boxing on multiple networks by PBC. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
April 1, 2015
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that May 2nd’s long-awaited PPV fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will have a price point of $99 HD and $89 SD. It will be the highest priced PPV ever.
The previous high for a sport PPV was “The One” which featured Mayweather fighting Canelo Alvarez. The event which drew a record $152 million in PPV also had the highest price point, $74.95 HD ($64.95 SD) for a PPV prior to next month’s event.
HBO and Showtime are handling the negotiations with pay-TV distributors and had sought an advantageous split on behalf of Mayweather and Pacquiao. With a normal split of 50/50 for PPVs, HBO and Showtime were looking for a 70/30 split of the PPV revenue. Of course, pay-TV distributors balked at the proposal.
The key distributors involved are iN Demand and DirecTV. The other distributors that the networks must reach agreements with are Dish Network and Vubiquity, the entity that handles negotiations for AT&T and others.
The WSJ report indicates that distributors will concede a split in the favor of the networks but not as much as the 70% proposal.
Estimates claim that the PPV could garner 3 million PPV buys which may almost double the previous PPV record.
It’s unlikely that $100 will deter many wanting to see this fight. Although the price is steep for a fight that many believe should have happened years ago, it is still an attraction that is unique and features the best known boxers in the sport. It was no surprise that HBO and Showtime sought a bigger piece of the pie in these negotiations as both are trying to maximize the revenues as they have agreed to partner in this event.
March 31, 2015
ESPN reports that Golden Boy Promotions filed a lawsuit against boxer Jhonny Gonzalez on Friday prior to his fight on Saturday. The complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims that Gonzalez’s Mexican promoter violated Golden Boy’s exclusive rights to promote his bouts.
Despite the lawsuit, it did not attempt to file an injunction from stopping Gonzalez from fighting Gary Rusell, Jr. Saturday night. It is requesting $1 million and for equitable relief which asks the court to enforce Golden Boy’s promotional agreement which Gonzalez entered into in 2013.
The lawsuit implicates Al Haymon as conspiring with Gonzalez’s promoter, Osvaldo Kuchle’s Promociones del Pueblo, in delaying a bout with Russell (who Haymon manages) until Golden Boy was not in the picture.
Gonzalez was stopped by Russell, Jr. on Saturday.
Although the story does not indicate a cause of action, one might expect it to be a breach of contract claim. This is at least the second boxing lawsuit which names Al Haymon as a contributing issue in a promotional dispute. Last year, you might recall that Sergey Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, sued Adonis Stevenson’s management group as well as the boxer. That lawsuit was settled essentially with Bernard Hopkins stepping up to fight Kovalev. Here, we may have a similar (not the same) situation. Obviously, the timing of the lawsuit probably precluded an injunction, although it would have been interesting. But we will see what happens next.
January 26, 2015
Oscar De La Hoya announced last week that he is launching his own network. De La Hoya TV will debut this spring as announced at the National Association of Television Program Executives annual conference in Miami. The network will offer combat sports including boxing, MMA as well as features on sports and lifestyle that will cater to the burgeoning Hispanic population in the United States.
No word on where you may find De La Hoya TV as the head of Golden Boy Promotions and his partner in the venture, Jose Alberto “Pepe” Gomez are still talking to cable and satellite systems about carriage deals. Per ESPN, there are no plans for the channel to include live sports programming.
The network will be based in Miami and will focus on Spanish-language content for the U.S. Hispanic market.
This is an interesting business venture for De La Hoya and perhaps just an expansion of his personal brand. The network states that it will offer boxing and MMA although there is no word on whether it has worked out any contracts with any existing organizations. Certainly, De La Hoya’s network will join some competition for the Hispanic market as Nuvo TV and the El Rey Network are two of the newer networks looking for a Hispanic audience. The big question will be whether it can be picked up by a cable and satellite system and how many households it can get into.
January 22, 2015
ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s boxing event on Showtime between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne drew an average of 1.24 million viewers per Nielsen. The peak for the fight was 1.34 million viewers.
The estimated average is based solely on the actual fight and not the overall event televised on the premium cable network. It was the biggest in over two years and drew the second largest boxing audience since 2004 behind Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout in December 2012. It also should be noted that the fight between Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana in December 2013 drew an average of 1.3M viewers on Showtime.
Rafael also provides numbers for the other two fights on the telecast including Leo Santa Cruz’s victory over Jesus Ruiz (912,000 viewer average) and Amir Imam’s win over Fidel Maldonado, Jr. (811,000 viewer average).
The fight between Wilder and Stiverne gained a good amount of buzz in the lead-up to the event. Showtime had an All-Access centered on the two heavyweights and Don King did his usual promos. The two fighters also provided their own sparks to fuel interest in the fight. One might argue that based on the ratings, boxing heavyweights still do matter in the sport.
January 11, 2015
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Richard Schaefer and Golden Boy have settled its lawsuit arising out of Schaefer’s departure from the boxing promotion last year. The settlement leaves Al Haymon with several key boxers for a shwow .
Golden Boy sought private arbitration to settle the departure of Schaefer from this past spring. Golden Boy was looking for $50 million in damages. Along with Schaefer, Floyd Mayweather and several key employees of Golden Boy left. As part of the settlement between the parties, Golden Boy relinquished the rights to several of the promotion’s top fighters notably Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia.
Golden Boy will retain the rights of Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse and Leo Santa Cruz. The fighters remain advised by Al Haymon. The LA Times’ Larry Pugmire indicated that Marcos Maidana will leave to join Haymon (via Bad Left Hook). According to Iole’s article, Schaefer will be precluded from promoting for a period of time. But, he’s likely to officially join the Haymon/Mayweather camp.
The settlement saves all parties a lot in legal fees. It also means that Al Haymon and his “advised fighters” can move forward with a possible network debut on NBC and NBC Sports. Golden Boy has a thinner roster but it will likely focus its efforts around Canelo Alvarez as the centerpiece for the company.