Federal judge dismisses Golden Boy monopoly lawsuit against boxing manager Al Haymon


A federal judge in Los Angeles Thursday dismissed the lawsuit by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions claiming that rival manager Al Haymon had engaged in monopolistic practices with his Premier Boxing Champions operation.

“Plaintiffs have been unable to present any evidence of harm to competition,” U.S. District Judge John F. Walter wrote at the close of his 24-page decision. “Instead, plaintiffs have merely presented evidence of harm to themselves.”

Michael Williams, an attorney representing Haymon and his company, said in a statement, “We are very pleased with the decision of the court to grant summary judgment and dismiss all of the meritless claims filed by Golden Boy Promotions. The court’s ruling makes clear that the efforts by Haymon Sports were intended to, and actually did, increase competition in the boxing industry, to the benefit of the boxers, other promoters and the fans.”


Golden Boy spokesman Stefan Friedman said, “We are obviously disappointed with the judge’s ruling. However, our top priority at Golden Boy is putting on the best fights for the fans and promoting the best shows in the business. We will continue to focus our energies on working with anyone and everyone to make the best fights happen.”

Golden Boy sought more than $300 million in the lawsuit, filed in 2015, which claimed Haymon sought to tie fighters up in extended exclusionary contracts with him while discouraging the boxers from promotional contracts.

A similar lawsuit filed by veteran promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank against Haymon was settled last year.

The Golden Boy lawsuit followed a settlement in early 2015 in which several Haymon-managed fighters, including heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, welterweight champions Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman and then-featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, split from Golden Boy.

By fighting for Haymon, the boxers were placed on several networks, including NBC, CBS and ESPN, as Haymon relied on a reported $500 million in funds from a Kansas investment firm to buy television time and attempt to promote a sport that had been cast aside by the networks.

Golden Boy additionally claimed Haymon, while assembling a 200-fighter stable, was “acting as both a boxing manager and promoter in violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, engaging in predatory pricing by “reversing the ordinary flow of money from the network to the promoter, and instead buying air time on key television networks; and blocking access to venues for boxing bouts.”


Judge Walter noted that Golden Boy produced successful cards as the lawsuit was pending, including the lucrative Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan fight in 2016 and the agreement this year with Haymon to stage an Alvarez bout against Haymon’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May, a bout hyped as “the biggest all-Mexican fight in boxing history.”

The judge additionally found that neither Fox nor ABC were precluded from broadcasting fights from other promoters despite their connections to PBC, and he noted Golden Boy and ESPN have entered into a new broadcast deal.

He also addressed the Ali Act violation claims and Golden Boy claims that Haymon manipulated “sham promoters.”

“Notwithstanding plaintiffs’ pejorative label, the promoters that work with the PBC vehemently disagree that they are ‘sham’ promoters,” Walter wrote.

“They have testified that their duties are substantially the same as their duties for non-PBC events, which include, for example: maximizing event revenues and generating media attention for the event; coordinating with the pertinent state boxing commission regarding the promoter’s various safety, financial, and technical obligations, including by ensuring the presence of medical personnel and safety equipment; executing bout agreements with the boxer, negotiating and entering into the venue agreement and pertinent sponsorship agreements, selling tickets, assisting with television production elements, and collecting the proceeds from ticket sales, gate revenue, and local sponsorship sales.

“In the cases where the television networks pay a license fee, the promoters collect those fees as well. The so-called ‘sham’ promoters are also responsible for overseeing the creation of advertising for the event and purchasing targeted advertising in various forms of the media. In addition, the promoters for PBC events handle event logistics, including travel, accommodations, and on-site coordination with the fighters, their camps, the media, and all other stakeholders.”


Walter wrote, “The court concludes that [Golden Boy has] failed to properly define the market, or show that there are significant barriers to entry in that market.”

While the PBC stable remains strong, Haymon has been required to assist on some premium-cable license fees to fighters to help stage fights like Saturday’s Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz, Dejan Zlaticanin-Mikey Garcia doubleheader of title fights on Showtime too.

Judge Walter summarized his decision by writing, “It can’t be said often enough that the antitrust laws protect competition, not competitors. … [C]ompetition is essential to the effective operation of the free market because it encourages efficiency, promotes consumer satisfaction and prevents the accumulation of monopoly profits.

“When a producer is shielded from competition, he is likely to provide lesser service at a higher price; the victim is the consumer who gets a raw deal. This is the evil the antitrust laws are meant to avert. But when a producer deters competitors by supplying a better product at a lower price, when he eschews monopoly profits, when he operates his business so as to meet consumer demand and increase consumer satisfaction, the goals of competition are served. … While the successful competitor should not be raised above the law, neither should he be held down by the law.”