Pre-trial documents were filed last Friday in Golden Boy’s antitrust lawsuit against boxing’s power manager and owner of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) television series, Al Haymon. As with the summary judgment filings a few weeks ago, the documents lift the veil on certain private details of the boxing business world.
Even though it’s not yet guaranteed that the case will go to trial in March – Judge Walter has yet to rule on Haymon’s summary judgment motions and the two sides could possibly make a last-minute settlement – pre-trial documents were due on Jan. 6.
Golden Boy filed motions to exclude the testimony of three of Haymon’s expert witnesses: boxing analyst Steve Farhood, former HBO Boxing head Kery Davis, and economist Duncan Cameron, while Haymon filed motions to exclude the testimony of Golden Boy’s liability expert witness Robert Kneuper and damages expert witness Gene Deetz.
Those and other pre-trial filings didn’t contain the usual redactions that keep proprietary business information from the prying public eye. They disclosed numerous facts and figures, and a particularly shameful set of e-mails.
Here’s what Bloody Elbow uncovered.
According to the deposition of Michael Ring, Waddell & Reed’s Media Group Holdings (MGH) made a capital investment of $585 million into Haymon Holdings – the entity that wholly owns Haymon Sports which in-turn runs the operations of the PBC. In a Kansas lawsuit, Waddell investors allege that $925 million was invested into MGH. Bloody Elbow has confirmed, per SEC filings, that Waddell’s Ivy Asset Strategy Fund and W&R Asset Strategy Fund made initial investments into MGH totaling 925,339,000. If $585 million was invested into Haymon Holdings, it is unclear at the moment how the remaining $340 million was used.
Haymon offered to purchase Golden Boy Promotions for $100 million in 2013, according to a Motion in Limine filed by the Haymon Defendants. Haymon’s motion is an attempt to keep arguments and evidence of this offer out of the upcoming trial, claiming it has “no bearing” on Golden Boy’s damages or liability theories.
Deetz calculated the following net amounts paid by Haymon to television networks. For the four networks listed, instead of receiving a rights fee for PBC content, Haymon paid them a grand total of $38,225,000, according to Deetz’s report. Based on available documents, it’s not clear if these are annual figures or the aggregate amount paid over time.
- CBS: $4,225,000
- ESPN: $8,000,000
- FOX: $12,500,000
- NBC: $13,500,000
Alvarez-Khan generated revenue of $27,707,448 and was Golden Boy’s most profitable fight of 2016. Khan made $6 million and Alvarez made $13,309,664 (80% of the net profits) while Golden Boy made net profits of $3,327,415.88.
Deetz estimates Golden Boy’s lost profits due to Haymon’s alleged anticompetitive practices at $20 million.
An exhibit to a Haymon attorney’s declaration shows a programming agreement from Apr. 7, 2014 between NBC and Haymon Sports with a two-year term and exclusivity for Haymon. It calls for 22 episodes: 12 on NBC Sports Network, 6 on NBC daytime (4-6pm), and 4 on NBC primetime (9-11pm).
Per the agreement, Haymon is obligated to contract with a “duly licensed” promoter for each event and is responsible for producing each PBC program. NBC is to pay Haymon $150,000 per episode as a contribution to production costs while Haymon owes NBC a time buy fee of $14.4 million each year with the majority of money due every January and September.
Haymon entities paid Golden Boy $10.5 million in January 2015 as part of a December 2014 settlement agreement to the arbitration case involving former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, according to an expert report by Michael Smith. As part of the deal, Golden Boy lost the promotional rights to 18 boxers including Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Marcos Maidana, Lamont Peterson, Adrien Broner, Peter Quillin, Erislandy Lara, Daniel Jacobs, Abner Mares, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander, Shawn Porter, Robert Guerrero, and Deontay Wilder.
In February 2015, four more boxers’ exclusive promotional rights were terminated in exchange for $3.5 million, per the Smith expert report.
Deetz performed an analysis of Golden Boy’s revenues (television revenues, ticket sales, merchandising, sponsorship, co-promotion revenue share, and other revenues), fighter and other expenses, and income from boxing operations for 2014, 2015, the first half of 2016, as well as for each individual boxer on Golden Boy’s roster.
Golden Boy uses Deetz’s analysis showing an apparent decline in income from boxing operations from roughly $8.8 million in 2014 to substantially less in 2015 and 2016 - when the PBC was in existence - as part of its theory of damages, although the 2016 number is misleading since it only accounts for half the year. Haymon’s side wants to exclude Deetz’s testimony, noting that he “did not even attempt to control for additional or other reasons that [Golden Boy’s] profits might have dipped following 2014,” with an example that Floyd Mayweather was no longer with the promotion in 2015.
Deetz also breaks down revenues and expenses for each boxer on Golden Boy’s roster. All the following numbers are from his expert report.
In 2014, even though Floyd Mayweather had a fight under the Golden Boy banner, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was the promotion’s most profitable fighter. By Deetz’s calculations, Canelo brought in $21,266,606 in total revenue compared to $52,934,945 for Mayweather. But Canelo’s fighter and other expenses were $14,012,597 and $4,196,686, respectively, while Mayweather’s were substantially higher at $35,192,616 and $15,525,427. At the end of the day, Golden Boy earned $3,057,323 in income off Canelo compared to $2,216,902 from Mayweather.
In 2015, Canelo was far and away Golden Boy’s most profitable fighter, earning the promotion income of $4,415,306 according to Deetz’s spreadsheet. Golden Boy’s second most profitable fighter that year, Luiz Ortiz, brought in a comparatively paltry $307,309. The first half of 2016 was similar with Canelo earning Golden Boy income of $2,988,256, Amir Khan earning the promotion $449,046, Francisco Vargas making them $238,250, and every other fighter earning Golden Boy income of $61,000 or less. And most boxers on Golden Boy’s roster are money losers. In the first half of 2016, Golden Boy earned negative net income on 142 of 155 boxers (91.6%). Only 13 of 155 boxers (8.4%) made Golden Boy positive net income.
Deetz’s numbers reveal just how incredibly valuable Canelo Alvarez might be to Golden Boy’s bottom line. From 2014 through the first half of 2016, it appears that Golden Boy had combined income from boxing operations of $16,321,659 and Canelo accounted for 10,460,885 of it, or 64.1%. But even this doesn’t reveal the true extent of Golden Boy’s reliance on Canelo since it also appears that Mayweather made the promotion over $2 million in 2014. After Mayweather split with Golden Boy and Haymon bought out his boxers, Canelo accounted for 94% of Golden Boy’s income from boxing operations in 2015 and 107% in the first half of 2016, according to Bloody Elbow’s calculations of financial records in the Deetz’s report.
At the moment, financially-speaking, Canelo is Golden Boy.
Per the stipulated pre-trial facts:
- Haymon Sports entered into an exclusive time-buy contract with NBC on Apr. 7, 2014, which commenced on Jan. 1, 2015.
- On Jan. 22, 2015, Haymon Sports entered into an exclusive time-buy contract with CBS, but the contract was later terminated by mutual agreement.
- As part of the CBS agreement, Haymon Sports entered into a non-exclusive contract with Showtime.
- Haymon Sports signed a two-year exclusive time-buy contract with ESPN commencing on Jul. 1, 2015.
- Haymon Sports signed an exclusive time-buy contract with Fox Sports commencing on Mar. 31, 2015.
- Haymon Sports signed an exclusive contract with Spike TV commencing on Jan. 1, 2015.
- The Bounce TV agreement to air PBC events was an oral agreement.
- Haymon never sought exclusive contracts with HBO, Showtime, or PPV.
- In May 2016, Haymon Sports waived the exclusivity provisions in its television agreements.
According Deetz’s expert report, Haymon agreed to waive television exclusivity as part of his 2016 settlement with Top Rank, which had filed a July 2015 antitrust lawsuit that was almost a carbon copy of Golden Boy’s complaint.
Golden Boy is trying to exclude 15 e-mails between journalist Hesiquio Balderas and Golden Boy’s Public Relations Director Ramiro Gonzalez. In certain e-mails, Balderas describes Al Haymon as a “n*gger” and “black hitler.”
Golden Boy argues that Haymon is seeking to introduce the e-mails “…to impute Mr. Balderas’ inflammatory comments to Golden Boy, and thereby inflame the passions of the jury.” Haymon notes that 10 of the 15 e-mails don’t contain any inflammatory language, instead “…these emails between Mr. Balderas and Mr. Gonzalez simply concern their joint efforts to distribute English and Spanish versions of articles in which Mr. Balderas portrays Mr. Haymon in an extremely negative light.”
In his deposition, Gonzalez was asked to translate the key section of Balderas’ e-mail above: “He's going to put it in English and he's going to be a hit. This is interesting the point that Jose mention here, how the, you know, the black hitler has damaged the Abner and Leo career. He put it to fight with only tomato cans. He put those fights to fight with only tomato cans.”
Balderas: “That is great, get rid of that miserable black hitler. He's only disgracing boxing and he's scum. You know you have my total and absolute discretion. Thanks for trusting me, boss.” [Bloody Elbow translation]
The list of people scheduled to testify at trial is as follows. A “*” indicates that a person might be called to testify.
- Eric Gomez
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Robert Kneuper (expert)
- Gene Deetz (expert)
- Gary Shaw (expert)
- Kathy Duva
- Alan Haymon
- Michael Ring
- David Shuman
- Ryan Caldwell
- Jolene Mizzone
- Erick Penarrieta*
- David Tetrault
- Lamont Jones
- Bernard Hopkins
- Anthony Bailey*
- Alan Haymon
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Eric Gomez
- Roberto Diaz
- Julio Ramirez
- Bernard Hopkins
- Duncan Cameron (expert)
- Michael Smith (expert)
- Kery Davis (expert)
- Steve Farhood (expert)
- Michael Ring*
- Ramiro Gonzalez*
- Tom Brown*
- Lou DiBella*
- Marshall Kauffman*
- Leon Margules*
- Yvon Michel*
- Daniel Jacobs*
- John Molina*
- Wale Omotoso*
- Shawn Porter*
- Leo Santa Cruz*
- Julian Williams*
Regardless of the merits of the antitrust case against Haymon - which will be determined soon enough - it’s easy to see why Golden Boy might not be too happy with him. Not only does it appear that a $100 million buyout offer wasn’t accepted, it seems Haymon then hoodwinked Golden Boy with their December 2014 settlement agreement and subsequent buyout of 22 of his fighters. And then Haymon swooped in with PBC and started paying television networks $38 million while Golden Boy’s annual boxing net income was in the range of $8.8 to 4.7 million.
Throw in that Haymon was Mayweather’s advisor when he and his sizeable promotional net income (according to Deetz’s numbers) left Golden Boy and it’s probably all pretty frustrating.
The trial date is currently set for Mar. 14 in Los Angeles. Judge Walter has yet to rule on Haymon’s motion for summary judgment, which could significantly impact the scope of the trial, and possibly cancel it altogether. Bloody Elbow will keep readers updated on major developments in the case.
Paul is Bloody Elbow’s analytics and business writer and former provider of expert witness support in antitrust cases. Follow him @MMAanalytics.