Boxing: Bob Arum’s Lawsuit against Al Haymon Gets Knocked Down

By Joseph Santoliquito Oct 22, 2015
From an outside layman’s perspective, it seemed a desperate grasp when Top Rank’s Bob Arum filed a $100-million lawsuit against boxing powerbroker Al Haymon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in July.

Judge John H. Walter’s ruling on Friday seems to support that conjecture, when he dismissed Arum’s suit against Haymon and co-defendant Waddell & Reed, the Kansas City-based investment group that has bankrolled Haymon with $400 million to support his Premier Boxing Champions, although he did allow Arum to amend his complaint with respect to Haymon.

In Walter’s ruling, he concluded that “Top Rank has not adequately alleged injury to itself, which is not only an element of antitrust injury, but also of Article III standing. As discussed, Top Rank alleges that the Haymon Defendants engage in unlawful conduct in the form of exclusionary ‘tie out’ contracts, the use of ‘sham’ promoters, predatory ‘payola practices,’ and venue blocking.

“However, as the Haymon Defendants point out, Top Rank has failed to allege how it has been injured by the alleged conduct. Indeed, it has not identified a single bout that it has attempted to promote but was precluded from promoting by the Haymon Defendants, a single venue from which it has been blocked, or a single network that has refused to broadcast a fight promoted by Top Rank.

“Top Rank correctly argues that competitors who are ‘frozen out’ of a market by an antitrust violation have suffered antitrust injury and possess antitrust standing. However, Top Rank has failed to allege any facts demonstrating that it has actually been ‘frozen out’ by any of the Haymon Defendants’ conduct.”

Arum’s contention was that Haymon’s PBC series, which purchased time on CBS, NBC, Spike TV and ESPN, violated federal antitrust laws, in addition to the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which makes it illegal to act as both a manager and a promoter.

Top Rank has the opportunity to file an amended complaint against Haymon by Oct. 30. Top Rank reportedly said that it would. The suit against Waddell & Reed has been completely dismissed (“the Court denies leave to amend as to the Waddell Defendants,” it stated in the 24-page ruling obtained by What Top Rank failed to allege in the suit was that damages were done against the Las Vegas-based promotional company.

It is a victory for Haymon, who manages over 200 fighters. The ruling not only KO’d Arum, but Haymon’s legal team of Barry Burke and Norm Simon, of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis and Frankel, along with Howard Weitzman, toppled Arum’s legal heavyweight, Daniel Petrocelli, who represented Ronald Goldman’s family in the wrongful death suit against O.J. Simpson.

According to what Petrocelli wrote in the complaint, “Haymon and his co-conspirators will stop at nothing to obtain their unlawful design: total control over all aspects of the boxing management business and the boxing promotion business.”

Walter was not buying it; and though Haymon’s stable includes current and past world champions Floyd Mayweather Jr., Adonis Stevenson, Anthony Dirrell, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan and Adrien Broner, the complaint never stated exactly how many of Haymon’s 200-plus fighters are of championship caliber, nor was it able to prove the assertion that Haymon controls 50 percent of the boxing market.

In the original complaint, Petrocelli wrote: “Armed with nearly half a billion dollars from a Kansas City-based investment fund, Haymon and defendant Waddell & Reed are ‘making a play to take over boxing -- law, fair competition and fighters rights be damned.’ But just as there are rules inside the ring, there are extensive regulations outside of it to ensure fair competition. … With the financial backing, complicity and material assistance of Waddell & Reed and other financiers, Haymon is rigging the boxing industry so they can act as manager, promoter, sponsor, and ticket broker for nearly every major professional boxer competing in the United States, all in violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, the Sherman Act and a host of other state and federal laws.”

In Walter’s interpretation, the complaint was “short on factual detail and clarity. Without any additional factual allegations, the court cannot determine whether Top Rank has alleged an injury-in-fact, let alone whether that injury flows from that which makes the conduct unlawful.”

Or as Angel Garcia, Danny Garcia’s outspoken father and trainer, said, “All Al Haymon does is take care of his fighters and that scares the [expletive] out of the other guys. They tried to accuse Haymon of the same stuff that every boxing promoter has been doing the last 50 years -- and they failed.”

Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.


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