In early January, the world learned that enigmatic boxing advisor/manager Al Haymon had brokered a settlement agreement with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy, releasing most of Haymon's fighters from the latter's promotional clutches. The deal also settled the ongoing employment dispute between Golden Boy and former CEO, Richard Schaefer, who had resigned in June 2014 and was facing an arbitration case.
On Jan. 9, Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports reported, "Golden Boy Promotions settled its lawsuit with former CEO Richard Schaefer on Friday and surrendered its promotional rights to a number of top boxers who are signed with powerful manager/adviser Al Haymon, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports." Five days later, ESPN's Dan Rafael appeared to corroborate, "As part of the deal, multiple sources said De La Hoya also cut ties with the numerous top fighters he had been promoting from the stable of powerful adviser/manager Al Haymon."
We now know that this might not be how things actually went down. New documents filed yesterday in Los Angeles federal court allege that Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy were victims of fraud on the part of Al Haymon.
The story stems from the settlement agreement, signed last year on Dec. 18 and 19 by Haymon, Schaefer and De La Hoya. According to De La Hoya, in the process of negotiating the settlement, Haymon communicated "affirmative statements" about working with Golden Boy to promote his fighters in the future. Yet according to a declaration of Al Haymon, 20 days later on Jan. 8, 2015, he "exercised a discretionary right" to end his business relationship with Golden Boy (and presumably buy out his fighters).
De La Hoya claims Golden Boy never would've made the agreement had they known Haymon would buy out his fighters so soon and, therefore, have been damaged in excess of $100 million.
Excerpts from De La Hoya's counterclaim to an arbitrator state:
In entering into the Settlement Agreement, the Haymon Entities were well aware that Golden Boy's opportunity to promote these premium fighters and to announce and capitalize on its promotion of those fighters was extremely important to the development and continuity of Golden Boy's business and was an immensely valuable right, worth far in excess of the relatively modest sums that could, in the future, allow the Haymon Entities to terminate those relationships. Indeed, the opportunity to promote those premium fighters was the most important benefit Golden Boy received from the Haymon Entities under the Settlement Agreement. In making the Settlement Agreement, however, the Haymon Entities knew and fraudulently concealed their knowledge that Golden Boy would never have that extremely valuable opportunity...
In the negotiation of the Settlement Agreement, the Haymon Entities communicated to Golden Boy affirmative statements about working with Golden Boy on the promotion of those premium fighters, even going so far as to include in the Settlement Agreement that Golden Boy's matchmaker, Eric Gomez, would be the point man with whom they would regularly communicate about such fighters and their bouts. In fact, the Haymon Entities had no intention whatsoever of having continuing communications with Eric Gomez or anyone else at Golden Boy about these premium fighters or anything else, because the Haymon Entities knew, and fraudulently concealed that, within days after making the Settlement Agreement [redacted]...
Only a few days after signing the Settlement Agreement, the Haymon Entities carried out their fraudulent plan, by giving notice ending the term of the Settlement Agreement and additionally terminating the relationship between Golden Boy and every one of the premium fighters listed in the Settlement Agreement...
But for the opportunity to promote the premium fighters listed in the Settlement Agreement, the affirmative statements made by the Haymon Entities about working with Golden Boy, and the acts of fraudulent concealment alleged hereinabove, Golden Boy would not have entered into the Settlement Agreement and would not have given the Haymon Entities the right to buy fighters out of their binding agreements with Golden Boy.
While heavily redacted, Haymon denies Golden Boy's claims stating, "Haymon did not fraudulently conceal anything from Golden Boy... [redacted] This was a material and bargained-for term in the Settlement Agreement. Golden Boy was fully aware of this term and agreed to it." Haymon denies committing fraud but doesn't dispute the timing of events. It appears the two sides executed a settlement on Dec. 19 and Al Haymon ended the term of the agreement 20 days later, buying out every fighter in which he was contractually allowed.
In the past, many of Haymon's fighters have worked with Golden Boy without being under an official promotional contract. Yet Golden Boy claims it had "binding agreements" after the settlement. Did Al Haymon strike a deal to release Richard Schaefer and bind many of his fighters to Golden Boy only to buy them out 20 days later?
By their own admission, this would be a monumental blunder on the part of someone in the Golden Boy front office. But it sure would give context to Golden Boy's antitrust lawsuit against Haymon. Haymon is presently claiming that the settlement agreement releases him from any claims, including antitrust, up through Dec. 19, 2015 and argues that Golden Boy starting its antitrust claim on Jan. 1, 2015 is "artful pleading."
Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy watched the late-night infomercial and bought the miracle book with life-changing information everyone needs to know, only to realize it was just expensive, useless paper. This doesn't necessarily mean their antitrust lawsuit is without merit. In certain respects it's stronger than the ongoing antitrust case against the UFC. But we've all been hoodwinked at some point in our lives. We've all probably wanted a little payback, too.
Paul is Bloody Elbow's analytics writer and former provider of expert witness support in antitrust cases. Follow him @MMAanalytics.