Federal judge dismisses lawsuit between heavyweights of boxing promotion

A Los Angeles federal judge has moved to dismiss a lawsuit brought forward by boxing promotional company Golden Boy Promotions against Al Haymon over the formation of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series.

Filed in May 2015, Golden Boy sought more than $300m (€280.1m) in damages over claims that parties involved in founding PBC had violated antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, the latter of which is a federal law that prohibits managers serving as promoters.

Golden Boy, founded by boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya, said Haymon had sought to persuade fighters to sign extended exclusionary contracts with him, while also discouraging the same boxers from agreeing to promotional contracts.

Although the lawsuit was mainly aimed at Haymon, Golden Boy also sued asset management firm Waddell & Reed Financial, and its related hedge funds, which were the main source Haymon had been using to launch PBC. Golden Boy said Haymon had conspired with Waddell & Reed to breach state and federal laws regarding the protection of fighters.

However, according to the court ruling obtained by newspaper USA Today, Judge John Walter said that Golden Boy “failed to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to any of their federal claims for relief”.

Judge Walter added: “Not a single boxer has testified that he has been coerced into selecting a particular promoter or prevented from selecting the promoter of his choice. In fact, defendants have submitted the declarations of six boxers who testify directly to the contrary.”

Michael Williams of Quinn Emanuel, the law firm representing Haymon Sports, welcomed the ruling and accused Golden Boy of “making a mockery” of federal antitrust laws.

Williams said: “Antitrust is there to promote and protect competition and not necessarily to protect a single competitor from losing their grip. Golden Boy and Top Rank, which had filed a previous lawsuit, really had a chokehold on the industry, and Haymon comes along and is trying to get better deals for his boxers and increase the popularity of the sport and try to get it back on TV, and the results were it actually did that.”

However, Golden Boy said in a statement that it maintains “Haymon Sports is the true promoter of the PBC fights because it performs certain traditional functions of promoters”, such as negotiating television deals, paying the fighters’ purses and purchasing advertising.

PBC’s designated promoters testified their duties are “substantially the same as their duties for non-PBC events”.

“We are obviously disappointed with the judge’s ruling,” Golden Boy Promotions spokesperson Stefan Friedman told USA Today. “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.”

Haymon-managed fighters have been provided as opponents in at least three fights with Golden Boy in the past two years, including bouts between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne, Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan and the featherweight clash between Robinson Castellanos and Oscar Escandon.