Jury hits Canelo with $8.5 million verdict

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Top Rank – Haymon settle antitrust lawsuit

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.

Top Rank amended its lawsuit on 3 separate occasions.  One of the tries resulted with Haymon securing a dismissal.  However, the court allowed Top Rank the opportunity to refile.  Which it did.

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.

Joint Stipulation Dismissing Lawsuit by JASONCRUZ206

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

Canelo-Khan PPV buys reported between 460-600K

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

2015: The year in Boxing

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
Rating Date
869,000 3/13/2015
569,000 4/24/2015
772,000 5/22/2015
446,000 6/12/2015
679,000 8/14/2015
583,000 9/11/2015
315,000 10/16/2015
466,000 11/13/2015
538,000 12/18/2015

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.

As for the best of the rest, GGG made his debut as PPV headliner in October and Cotto-Canelo headlined a PPV in November.  GGG drew 150K PPV buys  and Cotto-Canelo drew a reported 900K PPV buys.  

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.  

Canelo-Cotto payouts and update on tickets

November 20, 2015

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fights Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission has divulged the purses for Saturday’s event.

Cotto will make at least $15 million while Alvarez will make $ 5 million.

Alvarez will also benefit from PPV upside from Mexico.  No word if Cotto will receive a part of the PPV cut.

There are a few tickets left on Ticketmaster as of Friday night.  However, those tickets start at $2,000.  On the secondary market, you can find tickets for $615.

Payout Perspective:                   

This fight will be one of the bigger fights of the year.  As with boxing, nation pride comes into play when factoring in the popularity of the fight.  Cotto, who is from Puerto Rico, and Alavarez, who is from Mexico, should draw huge followings both in person and on PPV.  While I do not think that this fight will climb to Ronda Rousey levels, Alvarez is a major draw.  Cotto is an older fighter but is competitive and it should be a good fight.

Haymon files motion to dismiss Top Rank lawsuit

September 2, 2015

This past Monday attorneys for Al Haymon and other Haymon entities sued in the antitrust lawsuit brought by Top Rank in Los Angeles have filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint in its entirety.  A hearing is set for October 5, 2015.

The Haymon Defendants (as they are identified in the moving papers) state that all of the antitrust claims should be dismissed and that the violations of the Muhammad Ali Act should be dismissed as well.

Notably, in response to Top Rank’s claim that Premier Boxing Champions strategy of purchasing time buys as a “loss leader” strategy to “tie out” other competitors is false.  Rather, it states the move as a “pro-competitive innovation” meant to promote interest in the sport with regularity and at minimal cost “with the intention of expanding the diminishing fan base for the sport,” according to its motion.

The attorneys for Haymon point to the lack of evidence from Top Rank reflecting the predatory nature of Haymon in which it foreclosed opportunities for Top Rank to promote or sign boxers or were financially damaged from its practices.

It also stated that Top Rank’s use of the Ali Act is incorrect as only boxers are entitled to use the federal law.

According to records obtained by the Sports Business Journal, PBC was backed by at least $448M from a $23B mutual fund managed by Waddell & Reed Financial.  Per the SBJ, in its latest SEC filings, as of June 30, 2015,  Haymon Media Group Holdings are down $155M from its initial cost of $448M in 2013.  It is believed that this is the part of the Waddell Fund that funds PBC.  One may assume that the losses are based on the investment in PBC.

(H/t: Bill King)

Payout Perspective:

MMA Payout will have a more detailed evaluation of the motion to dismiss in the coming days.  The motion was expected at the outset even with a similar lawsuit filed by Golden Boy.  One would assume that a similar motion is in the works for the Golden Boy lawsuit although there was an arbitration hearing on the matter in July to decide whether the arbitrator or a court would decide Golden Boy’s lawsuit.

Cotto-Canelo set for November 21st

August 13, 2015

HBO PPV officially announced Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez set for Saturday, November 21st at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s official!!!!!!

A photo posted by Oscar De La Hoya (@oscardelahoya) on

Oscar De La Hoya posted the fight poster between the Puerto Rican and Mexican star on Thursday.

The PPV is set for $65 HD and $55 SD with most distributors.

According to an ESPN Deportes article, Roc Nation Sports, Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions (on behalf of Alvarez) are involved in putting the fight together. Two notable items for the fight: the canvas will be black, a staple of Roc Nation boxing events and the fighters have agreed that there will be no rematch clause.

Payout Perspective:

Confirmation of Cotto-Alvarez should cap off three big boxing PPVs this fall. Mayweather-Berto on September 12th, GGG-Lemieux on October 17th and Canelo-Cotto on November 21st. The question is whether fans will purchase all three. Certainly, November’s fight between Canelo and Cotto has the makings of a big money fight with a sufficient amount of time for HBO to build this fight. It will also ignite two big ethnic fight bases. The report of the “no rematch clause” is an interesting twist if true. Of the three fights, which one will do better on PPV?

Haymon-Golden Boy file Arbitration Briefs which may decide lawsuit

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.

Golden Boy's Arb Brief Re Preliminary Issues

Haymons’ Arb Brief by JASONCRUZ206

Payout Perspective:

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.

Haymon seeks to stay lawsuit filed by Golden Boy

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.

Motion to Stay Case – Haymon

Dec of Al Haymon in Support of Motion to Stay

Payout Perspective:

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.

Bellator 139: 764K viewers and Friday night boxing numbers

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.

Overnight Peak
Bellator 132 767,000 1,200,000
Bellator 133 565,000 967,000
Bellagtor 134 872,000 1,200,000
Bellator 135 607,000 922,000
Bellator 136 655,000 900,000
Bellator 137 594,000 768,000
Bellator 138 1,580,000 2,100,000
Bellator 139 764,000 988,000

Bellator 139

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.

Payout Perspective:

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.

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