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The Vindication Of Al Haymon: The Golden Boy Years

Boxing is a great sport because it makes you feel perpetually young. If you just wait around long enough you’ll see people arguing the same arguments they threw out into the web twenty years ago. Which brings us to the latest missive from Oscar De La Hoya who is now blaming Al Haymon for Oscar not being able to produce compelling fights on DAZN.

From the start there’s the oddity of Oscar saying fighters are hiding behind Al Haymon while saying that everyone needs to fight on DAZN. A company that has perpetually lost billions of dollars and has almost no traction with the US marketplace.

Another hilarity of this declaration is that the only thing Oscar can state about Al Haymon is, “He’s something”. Which just reveals a fact that people should really pick up on. That fact being Oscar, despite being the de facto President of Golden Boy Promotions that promoted eight of Floyd Mayweather’s Pay-Per-View fights and numerous other shows, has rarely dealt with Al Haymon.

Let’s not dance around this issue as it has been widely covered, Oscar is an alcoholic and drug addict who continually tells himself he can manage his addictions. After the massive success of the Oscar vs Floyd Mayweather Jr fight where Floyd’s constant mockery of the caricature that Oscar had trapped himself had spawned the very first HBO 24/7 show, it was Golden Boy Promotions that would go on to promote the Ricky Hatton fight later that year.

This was all due to Richard Schaefer who was the brains behind Golden Boy Promotions. After Oscar had gotten free from his contract with Top Rank, argued by Stephen Espinoza where Oscar was a client (routinely incorrectly reported as Espinoza being Oscar’s lawyer, yes that distinction matters), Oscar continued to use Top Rank to promote his fights. Oscar did not independently promote his cards until he met and hired Schaefer to run his business. Despite saying that he, “defeated one of the biggest Jews to come out of Harvard” he was still massively reliant on Top Rank prior to this Schaefer partnership.

It was Schaefer who rapidly built up Golden Boy’s roster by signing numerous fighters from Mexican and other locales to co-promotion deals. But the crown jewel of the Golden Boy Promotions fight world was Floyd Mayweather Jr. A fighter who was never signed to GBP. 

This is important because when Richard Schaefer eventually got fed up with Oscar’s wildly swerving moods and declared he was leaving Golden Boy, Oscar sued him in order to make Schaefer stay on and fulfill his contract. This is the greatest oddity of the time period where Oscar got all the boxing writers to state that Schaefer had gone behind his back and allowed fighters promoted by Al Haymon to be on GBP cards without being signed to GBP. When this is exactly how he knew business was run. 

And Oscar did not sue Schaefer over this supposed breach of responsibility. He sued Schaefer for trying to exit his contract early. Wild how Oscar would want the man he said had gone behind his back to stay on at the company and fulfill his contractual obligations.

But once again, the boxing world is rife with these logical gaps that pundits try to jump over when they want to push agendas.

This narrative was driven by GBP friendly pundits who conflated the settlement between GBP and Schaefer  with the “release” of the majority of the fighters who were managed by Al Haymon. They were actually two separate events with the only connection being that new contracts were created and approved by Oscar after Richard Schaefer was no longer with the company. This happened in December of 2014. These contracts contained buyout clauses which were enacted as soon as the contracts came into effect with the first group of fighters being bought out in January and the rest being bought out in February. 

While the exact details have not been disclosed in regards to the Richard Schaefer settlement and the creation of new contracts, it is highly unlikely that these contracts were due to these fighters “not being signed” to GBP. If that were the case there would be no reason for Haymon to agree to new contracts. Even a threat of a lawsuit would not compel him to force his fighters to sign with a promoter.

The likelier reason new contracts were required is due to what is known in the contract world as a “keyman” clause. Which would mean that Haymon agreed for his clients to be promoted by GBP as long as Richard Schaefer (the keyman) was the CEO and the person that would negotiate the fights with Al Haymon. Given the known animosity between Floyd Mayweather Jr, Haymon and Oscar prior to their working relationship as well as Oscar’s erratic behaviour due to his addictions this would not be surprising if it were the case.

But no matter the actual reasons for the new contracts, Oscar agreed of his own free will and now as sole leader of Golden Boy Promotions to include buyout clauses. Then as soon as the contracts took effect, January of 2015, Al Haymon paid the fees that Oscar had agreed to in order for his fighters to be free of GBP.

Oscar would eventually go on to sue Al Haymon for violations of the Ali Act and Sherman Act which was soundly defeated. To paraphrase Judge Richard Boulware’s decision, “Not being as smart as someone else is not the grounds for a lawsuit”. It was revealed during this lawsuit that GBP received $14 million from Haymon to enact the buyout clauses.

For further comedy when it comes to this lawsuit, the eight witnesses that GBP called to be deposed in this case all testified that they had at no point been told by Al Haymon that they could not pursue dealings with other promoters or broadcasters. As evidenced by Daniel Jacobs signing a deal with HBO boxing.

The bizarre nature of the lawsuit peaked when Oscar De La Hoya, who brought about this case claiming that Al Haymon was creating a monopoly on the sport that harmed GBP,  stated that the only fighter that mattered in boxing was Canelo Alvarez and every other boxer was meaningless next to Canelo who was under contract with GBP at the time. 

Oscar’s own testimony sunk his entire case. These are the parts of the lawsuits that people suddenly didn’t have time to clarify despite previously never seeing any resistance to pushing an anti-Haymon article in regards to Oscar’s claims.

This is the actual history that needs to be remembered as Oscar continues his rants against Al Haymon. That is when he isn’t making claims that he is about to sell GBP for $1 billion or posting bizarre tweets that should make people question his current state of mind.

Oscar has no intention of making any fights as I have previously covered. There’s also Oscar’s strange loyalty to DAZN. The same DAZN that not only helped break his contract with Canelo by refusing to fund fights that they would then go on to fund with Eddie Hearn but DAZN also tore up GBP’s original five-year $90 million contract for GBP to air fights on their platform.

While Oscar likes to hold himself up as doing what is best for fighters and “the sport”, we can once again go back to the failed lawsuit against Al Haymon which showed that out of the boxing promoters in the US, GBP actually pays less of a share of revenue to the fighters than Top Rank. 

So as we close the book on this chapter of the real history of Al Haymon in the sport of boxing, I feel it important to note that it was Haymon who gave Oscar the chance to pretend he was a successful promoter by allowing him to promote Floyd Mayweather Jr’s fights. In fact, Haymon was so willing to continue this illusion that he offered to buy GBP for $100 million and would have retained Oscar as the promoter of record. A role now filled by various promoters like TGB Promotions.

But Oscar saw this extremely generous offer as an insult and where has it gotten him? He’s lost the premiere fighter in the sport to Eddie Hearn on DAZN and he is now down to making fights for his few remaining boxers against a cast of UK domestic fighters that garner no interest from the US public.

Anyone who has dealt with a person with addiction issues knows that they frequently lash out at those that try to save them from themselves and this is the light that the Al Haymon/GBP era should be viewed. Haymon was willing to do business with GBP as long as Oscar retained the people who allowed business to be done. For Haymon understood that there were people who still look favourably upon Oscar because of his boxing career and it was good for business. But you cannot do proper business at this level in boxing with someone as erratic as Oscar. And that’s the truth about himself that Oscar still cannot face.



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