In UFC Antitrust lawsuit, plaintiffs’ economic expert report compares UFC to pro leagues

February 20, 2018

MMA Payout takes a look at the 158-page expert report provided by plaintiffs’ economic expert Andrew Zimbalist.  Its Dr. Zimbalist’s opinion that Zuffa is attempting to exclude from the case at hand as they take issue with his calculation of damages.

As with most of the filings containing sensitive information about Zuffa contract and financial information, there are parts of the report that include heavy redactions.

In addition to a review of the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB, Dr. Zimbalist reviews the history of boxing’s payment scale.  He identifies “at least five different boxing promoters who are prominent enough to promote major championship fights each year, and probably more than ten.”

In estimating damages, Dr. Zimbalist explained his methodology:

“For each sport that I use as a benchmark, I apply the athlete compensation share of revenue to the reported Zuffa bout revenues to arrive at what Zuffa’s fighters would have been paid if they received the same share as the athletes in these other sports where competitive labor markets prevail.  I then take the mean of these but-for compensation levels from the different sports and compare it to the total event-related fighter compensation paid out of Zuffa’s athletes.  The difference is the basis for my estimate of the total amount members of the bout class were underpaid due to the challenged conduct.”

In the next paragraph Dr. Zimbalist gives his explanation for using player share rather than the actual pay levels.  He believes that it would control the state of the industry and differences between the popularity and thus demand for each benchmark as compared to MMA.

Dr. Zimbalist includes Golden Boy Boxing Revenues and Expenses in his report as a comparison to MMA.  The information was disclosed in the Al Haymon-Golden Boy antitrust lawsuit.

Notably, the Fighter share of revenue was over 55% of the total revenue in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

He also provides a table reflecting share of revenue in the NFL and MLB.

Dr. Zimbalist includes a quote Zuffa LLC’s then CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta gave to ESPN’s Outside the Lines in a story on fighter pay in 2012.  Fertitta stated fighter pay was “not far off what the other sports leagues pay as a percentage of revenue.”  When informed that the players share in the big 4 leagues was around 50 percent, Fertitta agreed that the UFC’s fighter pay was comparable.  Dr. Zimbalist notes that this was an untruth.

He then gives his estimate and damages calculations.

Below, I calculate annual damages to the bout class by comparing UFC athlete share of event-based revenue to the average athlete share of revenue in the selected benchmarks discussed above: the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and boxing. For those leagues whose competitive seasons nm between two calendar years, the year identified is the fiscal year. Hence, the 2014-15 NBA season corresponds to fiscal year 2015 and is represented as 2015. My source for Zuffa’s revenues and fighter compensation are Zuffa’s annual financial statements.

 

We don’t exactly know his damage estimate since it is redacted from the public report.  Dr. Zimbalist did base UFC fighter pay and revenues based on Zuffa annual financial statements (likely) provided in discovery.

Payout Perspective:

While Dr. Zimbalist believes his calculations are conservative, it’s clear that Zuffa thinks otherwise.  The “yardstick method” is at issue here as Dr. Zimbalist comes to the conclusion that the UFC used anticompetitive conduct which would lead to anticompetitive effects for a firm with monopoly or monopsony power.  He also believes that the rationale given for the conduct are not procompetitive are invalid, do not theoretically apply to MMA and there less restrictive conduct in its labor market.  Utilizing the “Big 4” sports and boxing to come up with a comparable estimation for damages is contested by Zuffa here as they make the assertion that the 4 sports leagues have unions which facilitate athlete compensation.  But, UFC fighters do not.  The data used from boxing is based on 2.5 years from Golden Boy Boxing so the argument there is that the analysis is incomplete and from a short span of time.

MMA Payout will have more on this and Dr. Zimbalist’s rebuttal report in the near future.

UFC attempts to exclude expert, Plaintiffs file for class certification in latest antitrust lawsuit filings

February 18, 2018

New filings in the UFC antitrust case filed Friday included plaintiffs’ request for class certification and Zuffa seeking to exclude the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert Andrew Zimbalist.  As is customary in litigation, a glut of pages of legal filings were made on a Friday, just in time for the three day President’s Day weekend for lawyers for the UFC and plaintiffs to sift through.

Both filings were anticipated.  Plaintiffs’ have been angling toward certification.  Zuffa’s motion to exclude plaintiffs’ expert is a strategic motion to discard or curb the testimony of Zimbalist based on his reports.

Zuffa’s Motion to Exclude plaintiffs’ expert economist Andrew Zimbalist is based on his expert reports and deposition testimony.  The basis for the request to exclude Dr. Zimbalist is that his method of coming up with his conclusion for plaintiffs’ damages is not premised upon a general accepted method of practice.  Zuffa categorizes Dr. Zimbalist’s reports and testimony as “junk science” that does not meet the Federal Rules of Evidence reliability standards. The “Daubert test” which is premised upon a court case, enables the court to perform a “gatekeeping” function to ensure that expert testimony admitted “both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.”

Zuffa argues that Dr. Zimbalist’s claim that he utilizes the “yardstick method” when assessing damages is incorrect.  “Instead, he compared Zuffa to other firms chosen based on his selecting comparison firms that had as much in common as possible.”  Zuffa takes issue with Dr. Zimbalist using a “damages method” with no standards.  The claim is that Zimbalist chose to compare UFC fighter pay with those of the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB based on his previous work within those sports.  Zuffa describes Dr. Zimbalist’s testimony as one which lack standards without following the generally accepted “yardstick method” of assessing damages in comparing a market or firm similar to the plaintiffs’ situation for the impact of antitrust violations.  The issue taken with Dr. Zimbalist’s method and the accepted “yardstick method” is the comparability of markets.  Zuffa argues that Dr. Zimbalist did not make a comparison of the MMA market with a comparable other market.  Dr. Zimbalist argues that he used a model that had “as much in common as possible.”  But, as outlined by its motion, this does not follow the “yardstick method.”  Zuffa also claims that Dr. Zimbalist created a “selection bias” as he essentially used comparators he felt comfortable with to get to the desired result as opposed to determining whether the selection were the most appropriate.

If the Court agrees with Zuffa, this would deal a big blow to the plaintiffs’ case as one of its main experts would not be able to testify at trial and any evidence produced would not be used to prove damages as plaintiffs had planned.

Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification is a perfunctory motion necessary to attain class action status.  The requirements for the court to grant class status is based on four primary elements (which most attorneys know for studying the bar exam):  1) numerosity, 2) commonality, 3) typicality, and 4) adequacy.

The first element is the number of potential class member affected by the issues claimed in the lawsuit.  The second element is based on the common questions of law or fact in the lawsuit.  Third, the claims or defendants of the class representatives are typical of those of the class.  Finally, the class representatives (i.e., the lawyers involved in the current lawsuit) will adequately protect the interests of the class.

The plaintiffs move for an order certifying a Bout Class and an Identity Class.  The Bout Class encompasses all persons who competed in one or more pro UFC-promoted MMA bouts in the US between December 16, 2010 and June 30, 2017.  The Identity Class is based on each and every UFC Fighter whose Identity was expropriated or exploited by the UFC from December 16, 2010 and June 30, 2017.

In its motion, plaintiffs reiterate the “Scheme” outlined in their lawsuit.  The Scheme used by Zuffa in which it established and maintain market dominance in which it allows payment of fighters less than it would be in a more competitive market.  The three categories of the Scheme include its “long-term exclusive” “Contracts,” the “Coercion” of fighters to re-sign contracts, making them perpetual and the “Acquisitions” of other MMA promotions.

The motion for class certification is heavily-redacted especially when the motion relates to UFC contracts.  Looking at the class certification elements, its clear that there are many UFC fighters that may be affected by this lawsuit.  The overall argument for class certification is that too many people have been affected by the subject cause of actions that separate lawsuits would not make sense.  Secondly, the plaintiffs argue that there are common issues of law involved including:  1) whether Zuffa violated antitrust laws; 2) whether Zuffa possessed market power; 3) whether Zuffa’s Scheme had anti-competitive effects; 4) what injunctive relief is appropriate; and 5) the aggregate amount of damages caused by Zuffa’s unlawful Scheme.

Payout Perspective:

Both of these motions were likely to happen and we will see how the Court decides each.  With respect to the Motion to Exclude, the arguments asserted by Zuffa are valid but it’s the opposing party’s job to poke holes in the expert’s testimony.  The best-case scenario for Zuffa is that the testimony is limited in some way on the damages estimate.  It would be highly unlikely that the Court would exclude a witness in their entirety.  Dr. Zimbalist is an experienced expert and is used to attacks on his report and more importantly, knows how to craft a report.  Additionally, the reports are done in concert with plaintiffs’ attorneys so, overall, plaintiffs agree to what is being opined in the report.

More importantly for plaintiffs, class certification is a big deal for the plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ lawyers.  If the Court certifies class status for this lawsuit, then you will see more fighters joining the lawsuit and plaintiffs’ attorneys could collect a windfall if they are eventually successful at the end of the case either via settlement or verdict.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Canadian MMA promotion sues WSOF for breach of Franchise Agreement

February 15, 2018

A Canadian mixed martial arts regional promotion has filed a lawsuit against MMAWC, LLC and associated entities with the World Series of Fighting promotion in Clark County Superior Court in Nevada.

The lawsuit, filed on February 1, 2018, also names Carlos Silva, Ray Sefo and Keith Redmond.  Aggression Fighting Championship (“AFC”) claims that in mid-2013 was approached by WSOF looking to expand its business into the Canadian market.  WSOF claimed it wanted to acquire AFC and rename it World Series of Fighting Canada.  According to the lawsuit, it claims that WSOF represented that it had “substantial money behind the company” and an “ironclad network deal with NBC” and had retained IMG to sell events internationally.  AFC claims that WSOF would “cover all increased costs of events to rebrand the AFC, and Plaintiff would be reimbursed all event expenses.”  WSOF claimed it would share all broadcast revenues.

AFC executed a 5-year “licensing agreement which began on August 21, 2013 and expired on August 21, 2018.  But, AFC claims WSOF never provided a Franchise Offering Circular, financial statement or any of the required disclosures for selling a Franchise.

The lawsuit states that after WSOF took over AFC, that WSOF was “forcibly evicted from their office space and there was internal fighting related to non-payment of loans, expenses and vendors.”

AFC claims that it “advanced several tens of thousands of dollars for costs and expense for these events.”  It also paid a “monthly stipend” to WSOF.  Despite requests for payment, WSOF did not “honor the terms of the Franchise Agreement.”

AFC claims that WSOF has failed to pay any Canadian broadcast or streaming revenue to AFC or merchandise revenue.

Interestingly, AFC notes that as part of the “Franchise Agreement,” AFC can use the “Professional Fighters League” name in Canada.

There are ten causes of action in the Complaint, among the claims AFC claims breach of contract of the Franchise Agreement, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in contract, failing to inform AFC that they did not honor the obligations of the Franchise Agreement, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and tortious interference with contract. It also claims that Silva, Sefo, Redmond and Bruce Deifik breached their fiduciary duty as managers, directors and/or officers of WSOF/PFL. There is also a Civil RICO claim as a result of these claims.

Payout Perspective:

Notably, next week a hearing is scheduled fora Motion to Dismiss and/or compel arbitration in the case of WSOF and Shawn Wright as trustee for a company (WSOF Global, LLC) that provided loans to WSOF.  That case also deals with the issues related to the WSOF and PFL.  Here, it appears that the Canadian company is attempting to recoup money after a broken franchise deal from WSOF.  Since the new ownership took over, AFC probably feels duped that they were not compensated from the still existing franchise agreement.  One would assume that the new investors would take over the liabilities of the previous regime.  Then again, the multitude of lawsuits reflect ongoing issues with the structure of the prior company.  One would think we see this case go to arbitration as well as the Shawn Wright situation.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

 

Alliance MMA cleans house of C-Suite officers according to SEC filing

February 14, 2018

Alliance MMA announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Paul K. Danner III, resigned as an officer of the Company effectively immediately according to a February 7, 2018 SEC Filing.  In addition, it terminated the employment of the Company’s President, Robert Haydak, and its Chief Marketing Officer James Byrne.

Danner will stay on with Alliance MMA as Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors through May 1, 2018.

Alliance MMA announced that Robert L. Mazzeo will serve as the Company’s acting CEO.  Mazzeo had been acting as the company’s corporate counsel and is a partner at Mazzeo Song, P.C.

Alliance MMA is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ.  The stock is currently trading under $0.75 per share.  The company’s 52 week high is $3.38 as of the time of this writing.  It is down 77.46%  over the course of the past 52 weeks.  When it opened on the NASDAQ in November 2016 it started at $4.00 per share.

The company positioned itself as a “feeder” league for bigger promotions like the UFC.  It had acquired several regional promotions

MMA Payout previously interviewed Haydak and Burt Watson about their work with Alliance MMA.

Hunt allowed to include removal from UFC Fight Night 121 in his lawsuit against UFC

February 8, 2018

The court in the Mark Hunt-UFC/Dana White/Brock Lesnar lawsuit has granted Hunt the opportunity to Supplement his lawsuit to include facts about his removal from UFC Fight Night 121.

   Order on Supplemental Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

In finding for Hunt, the court stated that Defendants’ argument in precluding the filing a supplemental complaint was that the allegations were false.  Secondly, they argue that the accusations are distinctly different from the lawsuit.  The Court denied both arguments.

Payout Perspective:

As we stated, this was the likely result as the Court would be willing to include the additional information in order to properly litigate the entire case rather than piecemeal.  The factual claims serve as to bolster Hunt’s causes of action.  It also forces Defendants to address the allegations as it tries to dismiss the lawsuit.

Rivera issued 4 years ban for submitting false evidence to USADA

January 21, 2018

Francisco Rivera was handed a 4-year suspension from the UFC for “aggravating circumstances” stemming from a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The arbitrator determined that Rivera knowingly took clenbuterol and attempted to falsify evidence to conceal the wrongdoing.

A USADA arbitrator issued the ruling on Friday.

USADAv.rivera Award by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The arbitration is a result of a flagged urine sample taken from Rivera on July 23, 2016.  The A and B samples contained clenbuterol, a Prohibited Substance that is not a Specified Substance.  At the time, Rivera was preparing for a fight on July 30th

Notably, at about the same time, UFC welterweight Li Jingliang avoided punishment for a positive test of clenbuterol when it was determined that it was due to consuming contaminated meat in China.  Hoping to obtain the same outcome, Rivera claimed that it was possible that the positive finding was due to consuming meat at a family barbecue in Mexico.  In order to bolster his alibi, he produced a receipt from a Costco, a falsified bank statement and two falsified witness statements claiming that he was in Mexico visiting family.

As part of the investigation, USADA sent a representative from New York to Los Angeles to accompany Rivera to a local Chase bank branch to obtain a bank statement to confirm the authenticity of the receipt.  However, Rivera did not show up and when his attorney attempted to contact him, the fighter did not respond.  At that point, his attorney threatened to withdraw from representation due to his failure to show up at an agreed time.  USADA informed the arbitrator of what had happened and soon thereafter Rivera emailed USADA stating he was in Mexico.  It was later determined that he was actually in San Diego.

In order to save himself, Rivera claimed that his attorney had falsified the information in the Arbitration Brief.  But, the Arbitrator did not buy it.  Even though there were circumstantial facts, the Arbitrator notes the short notice of his bout in mid-June, the proximity of time (July 23) that the test was taken to his fight on July 30th and the nature of the finding led to the conclusion that Rivera used clenbuterol to lose weight while maintaining strength and endurance.

The Arbitrator found that Rivera did not meet his burden to show that the period of ineligibility should be reduced to less than two years based on the alibi that he used tainted supplements or ate tainted meat from Mexico.

 

The Arbitrator notes that USADA does not cite a definition for “aggravating circumstances” in its Arbitration brief which is meant to enhance a punishment.  Also, the UFC Anti-Doping Policy does not define “intentional” for purposes of the “aggravating circumstances” definition.  This might provide a sliver of hope for Rivera if he determines to appeal the 4-year sentence.  Yet, the Arbitrator found sufficient evidence to add on 2 years to the requisite 2 for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The good news for Rivera was that the Arbitrator noted that the parties bear their own attorney fees and costs.  Certainly, the flight for USADA to go from NY to LA to meet Rivera could have been an expensive cost for Rivera.

Payout Perspective:

This was a case that USADA is using as an example of what happens if you attempt to beat the system.  The attempts by the 36-year-old Rivera to falsify evidence is not only against the rules, it may have put the attorney in trouble for the claim that he attempted to falsify evidence in a proceeding.  Even if it was not in court, an administrative hearing likely carries the same ethical penalties for misrepresentation and falsifying evidence.  The punitive nature of the 4 years is warranted in this case considering the circumstances of the investigation with Rivera not showing up at an agreed upon meeting at a bank and admitting to falsifying the bank records.  Of course, the underlying was that Rivera attempted to use the banned substance to make weight for a fight he was taking on short notice which was also the last fight on his contract.  So, there was pressure to win in his last fight.  The fact he took it on short notice may be a consequence of needing the money.

Yoel Romero sues supplement maker that caused USADA suspension

January 16, 2018

Forbes reports that Yoel Romero has filed a lawsuit for negligence against Goldstar Performance Products in New Jersey Superior Court.  Romero is blaming the supplement maker for his USADA positive drug test for Ibutamoren which the middleweight served a 6-month suspension.

Romero used the product Shred Rx.  It appears that the supplement was used to help in the weigh-cutting process.

According to a description on the company web site:

‘Shed RX is an extremely powerful herbal diuretic designed to help the body dramatically eliminate excess water retention from beneath the skin. This maximum strength botanical formula also supplies the proper balance of vital electrolytes, which can help maintain muscle performance and muscle fullness. So if you are looking to get ready for that big show or just need to lose a few pounds of water weight for the beach or special event, then Shed RX is the product for you!

The supplement contained “approximately 5 micrograms per capsule” of Ibutamoren according to his complaint.

When his suspension was announced, it was noted that Romero took a contaminated supplement.  Based upon the Forbes retelling of Romero’s complaint, it appears that he had informed USADA of the drug believed to have caused the flagged test and an independent purchase of the product revealed that the capsules contained “approximately 12 micrograms [of Ibutamoren] per capsule.”  The supplement did not list this ingredient on the supplement which is the reason for the lawsuit.

Romero has a fight set with Luke Rockhold for the UFC middleweight interim title on February 10 at UFC 221.

Payout Perspective:

This is the second such lawsuit involving a supplement as Lyman Good sued a vitamin makerhe took and the store that sold the product due to a failed USADA test.  It will be an interesting case considering the lawsuit is based on negligence rather than strict liability.  Under a theory of negligence, Romero must prove that he was owed a duty as a customer to rely on the supplement’s list of ingredients and that the company failed to provide its customer with this information causing injury.  In products liability involving strict liability cases, there need not be a finding of fault, only that the defendant was responsible.  It appears that Romero is claiming that the company was careless in allowing the inclusion of the banned substance.  There are several defenses here.  But, look for the supplement maker to defend this case claiming the lack of foreseeability in that Romero would have taken such product and causing his claimed damages.

Scheduling Order issued in Hunt lawsuit, no trial date set

January 10, 2018

The parties in the Mark Hunt lawsuit have agreed to a scheduling order.  The scheduling order followed a required meeting of counsel via teleconference last Wednesday.

There is no trial date as of yet.  The order states that Zuffa and White are scheduled to begin trial in another case starting on April 16, 2018 with an estimated time of six months.  Also, due to the fact that Hunt lives in Australia, the parties have requested a special scheduling review.

Notably, the parties will conduct fact discovery in two phases.  The first phase will be written discovery on “all non-RICO claims.”  The second phase will be “non-written discovery and RICO claims, subject to the pending motions to dismiss, the outcome of which will likely necessitate the parties revisiting the scope and determining of discovery and corresponding deadlines.”

Scheduling Order by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

The initial disclosure of witnesses will occur on January 31st.  The cutoff for discovery will not occur unitl October 1st.  The deadline for summary judgments (aka dispositive motions) is October 31, 2018.  So, assuming that the defendants Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint is denied, we should be looking for a trial sometime in late 2018, early 2019.

Mark Hunt files Reply to UFC and Dana White’s Opposition to Motion to Supplement

January 8, 2018

Mark Hunt’s attorneys have responded to Zuffa and Dana White’s Opposition to its request to supplement its First Amended Complaint.

Hunt argues that the standard for supplementing is quite liberal to allow for “complete relief in one action.”  Hunt’s attorneys state that the alternative would be for Hunt to file a separate complaint which he infers would be duplicitous and a waste.

The central argument from Defendants according to Hunt is that the additional facts would be “futile” to the lawsuit.  Hunt points to its claim for the breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and amended breach of contract claim which survived the original motion to dismiss.  They note that the fight camp damages estimated at $100,000 and lost fight purse would directly be attributed to the breach of contract claim.

Reply to Motion to Supplement – Hunt by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

As we previously noted, Brock Lesnar, also a party to this lawsuit, has not responded to this motion. The Reply Brief submitted by Hunt stresses the liberal nature in which the rules allow for supplementing the lawsuit with additional information.  While Zuffa and White argued that the supplementation is pure surplusage, Hunt argues that the supplemental information related to his removal from UFC Fight Night 121 contributes to his original claims.  It’s likely we’ll see the decision of this motion prior to the Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

2017: The year in boxing

January 6, 2018

2017 was a great year for boxing which saw some great fights and the spectacle that was Mayweather-McGregor.

The year started off with the talk about Mayweather-McGregor as the UFC’s lightweight champion stirred the pot by going on a rant on Instagram where he wrote “F*** the UFC.”  Dana White warned that if Conor went on without the UFC it would be an “epic fall.”

January also saw Al Haymon get a court victory with a dismissal of Golden Boy’s Antitrust lawsuit.  In a ruling which did not include oral argument, the Judge determined that Golden Boy did not come fort with genuine issues of fact to support its claims.  Most importantly, and a word of caution for the Plaintiffs in the UFC Antitrust lawsuit, the Judge reiterated that the antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors.

Although Golden Boy suffered the loss in court, it inked a deal with ESPN with 42 fights airing on ESPN starting in March 2017.  As the prevailing party, they requested legal costs in the amount nearing $35,0000.  Golden Boy appealed the dismissal but it appears that the sides resolved the case as the appeal was dismissed by agreement of the parties.

The Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin/World of Boxing lawsuit went to trial in February and it did not take long for a jury to decide that Povetkin took Meldonium after January 1, 2016.  However, the case continues with the parties litigating the other claims as well as the issue who receives the millions of dollars that has been placed in escrow.

Wilder was also sued by rival Dominic Breazeale for a hotel melee.  The case was thrown out as the episode happened in Alabama but Breazeale sued in California.

Showtime Boxing had the highest rating of 2017 with Adrian Broner taking on Adrian Granados drawing 779,000 viewers.  The fight also aired on Twitter as the service continued to expand its offering of streamingClaressa Shields became the first female boxer to headline an event on premium network television. In March.

The GGG-Daniel Jacobs PPV drew between 130-150K PPV buys.  GGG’s next PPV appearance against Canelo would draw much higher as the draw drew 1.2 million buys.  The fight also had a higher price tag than usual:  $79.99 HD.  A rematch for May 2018 seems imminent.

March saw the second highest-rating for network viewership as Keith Thurman faced Danny Garcia in the battle of unbeatens on CBS.  The fight drew 5.1 million viewers while the overall telecast drew 2.7 million viewers.

After going through a lot of money, the viability of the PBC obtaining a media rights deal was brought into question.  Its deal with Spike TV ended but the organization found a home on FS1.

In 2017, it seemed as those everyone applied for a boxing license:  Conor, Nate Diaz, Cyborg…

Anthony Joshua faced Vladimir Klitschko in one of the biggest fights of the year.  The event aired live on Showtime and tape delay on HBO.

May’s Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. PPV drew 1.3 million buys and its replay on HBO drew 769,000 viewers.

In May, we took a look at where was Boxing’s next PPV star.  Aside from Canelo Alvarez, there are several contenders to be the next star on PPV including Anthony Joshua.

In June, The Money Fight was announced.

Also in June, Top Rank announced that it had a deal with ESPN to air fights with the first one being Manny Pacquiao fighting Jeff Horn in Australia on July 1st.  The debut earned big numbers as Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Horn.

The Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II PPV in June drew between 130-135K PPV buys.

July saw a 4-city tour to promote the Mayweather-McGregor bouts.  It was an ambitious tour that fans clamored to be a part.  It was announced that the PPV price would be $99.95 HD.

The Money Fight drew huge numbers and was a big financial success.  We wrote about it here.  The event had streaming issues on both UFC Fight Pass and Showtime platforms.  As you might expect, there were lawsuits which are still matriculating through the court system.

Despite the big event, HBO ran an event featuring Miguel Cotto and it did well considering as it drew 730,000 viewers.

Capitalizing on the publicity of The Money Fight, announced an ESPN deal which will include airing its fight library on an OTT service that will launch in 2018.

Austin Trout sued the WBO which included claims under the Ali Act.  The case was moved to federal court in Puerto Rico where the WBO is seeking to dismiss the case and move it to arbitration.  The case will be an interesting look as to whether the court will allow a claim under the Ali Act will go to arbitration.

In September, Magomed Abdusalamov settled with the state of New York for $22 million for injuries sustained in a fight in 2013.  Abdusalamov was left with a brain injury and paralysis due to improper conduct and lack of training by the New York State Athletic Commission.

A huge ESPN fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeux drew 1.73 million viewers.  The overall telecast drew 1.487 million viewers.

In December, Showtime announced Mayweather-McGregor drew 4.3 million domestic PPV buys.  This is off from the 6.7 million Dana White had stated.  After hearing of the announcement, White took issue with Showtime’s numbers.

One of the bigger stories to watch going into 2018 is the announcement by Dana White that he will be promoting boxing.  Zuffa Boxing, a t-shirt worn by White during The Money Fight press tour, was a hint that White was up to something.  White made it official late in the year.  He indicated that he was meeting with Floyd Mayweather.  Despite stating that he will never work with Showtime again, he said he would be willing work with other promoters with the exception of Bob Arum.

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