Attorneys for boxing manager Al Haymon say Top Rank lawsuit is baseless

Attorneys for powerful boxing manager Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions responded to the lawsuit filed Wednesday against the enterprise by veteran fight promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., dismissing the claims.

“The lawsuit filed today by Bob Arum and Top Rank is entirely without merit and is a cynical attempt by boxing’s old guard to use the courts to undermine the accessibility, credibility and exposure of boxing that the sport so desperately needs,” wrote Barry H. Berke, a spokesman for the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.

“The Premier Boxing Champions series makes boxing free again, by bringing championship boxing to free TV, with a fighter-first promise and a commitment to the fans to restore boxing to the luster of its heyday. The continued success of this effort will far outlast this baseless lawsuit.”

In its 50-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Top Rank claims damages in excess of $100 million as Haymon. who represents Floyd Mayweather Jr., has worked to lock up an estimated 200 fighters under contract.

Top Rank claims that through his fighter deals and time-buy arrangements with NBC, CBS, ABC as well as ESPN and other cable networks, other promoters are being locked out by practices that are monopolistic.

The lawsuit claimed Haymon could lose $200 million in the first 24 months of his operation in an effort to take total control of the sport.

“If left unabated, this conspiracy threatens to fatally cripple competition in [boxing], thereby causing substantial and irreversible harm to boxers, legitimate promoters, and consumers,” Top Rank attorney Daniel Petrocelli wrote in the lawsuit.

Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which earlier settled a lawsuit with Haymon that allowed the manager to retain talent, including super-bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, sued Haymon again for $300 million in May for violations of the Muhammad Ali Act that forbids a boxing manager from also operating as a fighter’s promoter.

“I applaud Bob Arum and Top Rank Boxing for stepping up on behalf of fighters not only in their own stable, but all across the sport,” De La Hoya said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.

“Those like Bob and myself who have spent the bulk of their lives around boxing understand that the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act is a crucial piece of legislation that serves to protect boxers and enhance the sport. Golden Boy Promotions will continue to push forward with our own lawsuit to ensure our wonderful sport continues to grow in a competitive, just manner."

Yet others, such as New York-based promoter Lou DiBella, who has promoted some PBC events, said Haymon’s operation doesn’t violate the Ali Act because his fighters are earning in excess of what other comparable championship-level boxers make.

In its lawsuit, Top Rank attorneys claim that by locking up their fighters in contracts, PBC is denying them maximum purses that can be gained in co-promoted bouts, such as the $1.4-million middleweight champion Peter Quillin walked away from last year while vacating his belt instead of fighting Matt Korobov.

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