First of July fireworks
And you thought the fireworks weren’t scheduled till Saturday, right? They were actually set off in the boxing world on Wednesday as Top Rank Promotions filed a $100 million suit against Al Haymon and Waddell and Reed, alleging Sherman Act (anti-trust) violations, monopolistic tactics, not adhering to the Muhammad Ali Act and breaking California Unfair Competition Laws. Yeah, everything short of causing the Johnstown Flood and global warming is being blamed on the shadowy and reclusive Haymon.
Lance Pugmire of the LA Times beat everyone to the punch on this story and the complaint can be read here.
(And the Association of Boxing Commissions requested that the Attorney General look into the PBC and its business practices, to boot.)
Yeah, Top Rank and Golden Boy aren’t going away without a fight – or litigation.
The Top Rank lawsuit was expected for awhile; you just knew Bob Arum and Todd duBoef were going to lawyer up (and in Daniel Petrocelli and David Moroso, they have two experienced lawyers who are not only bulldogs but well-versed in the boxing business) and fight for their positions in the marketplace.
It’s clear that the goal is not to get a monetary settlement but to cut off the financial spigot funding the PBC.
This fight has just begun.
The PBC did release a statement from its law firm (Kramer, Levin, Naftalis and Frankel) on its website, regarding Top Rank’s suit:
On behalf of our clients, Alan Haymon, Haymon Boxing LLC, Haymon Sports LLC and Haymon Holdings LLC:
The lawsuit filed today by Bob Arum and Top Rank is entirely without merit and is a cynical attempt by boxing’s old guard to use the courts to undermine the accessibility, credibility and exposure of boxing that the sport so desperately needs.
The Premier Boxing Champions series makes boxing free again, by bringing championship boxing to free TV, with a fighter-first promise and a commitment to the fans to restore boxing to the luster of its heyday. The continued success of this effort will far outlast this baseless lawsuit.
Some of the allegations aimed at Haymon/PBC include squatting on venues, something that was mentioned prominently in the lawsuit and an issue I wrote about a few months ago and basically papering the house to a point in which they are actually hiring companies like 1iota and FillASeat on a regular basis to put asses in the seats.
And that tactic – used to create the illusion that there is actual interest in their events and to look better on television – has a direct impact on other entities, which are in the business of actually selling tickets.
Case in point: This past Friday night at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, where a card nationally televised by truTV featuring Gilberto Ramirez and Diego Magdaleno (in separate bouts). This bill played to a less-than-expected crowd according to local promoter, Agustin Ord – the head of Nord Promotions – because of the freebies given away for the afternoon of May 9 at the very same arena in which Omar Figueroa headlined a PBC card.
“I think it really hurt us because a lot of people, they were waiting for the last second to get tickets and they were calling the arena and asking, ‘Hey, are you going to give tickets away this time? I know you were giving away tickets last time.’ We were counting on a big walk-up, we usually have 800 to 1,000 people for walk-up. For the last truTV show we had only 469 people for walk-up the day of the event.”
For Figueroa’s bout against Ricky Burns, which was televised on CBS, it was an open secret that tickets were being given away throughout Hidalgo.
“They gave away about 2,000 tickets for the PBC fight here in Hidalgo, and then doing a fight a month later, and the walk-up dropped by 150 percent,” said Ord, who’s just 24 years old and also runs a trucking business in McAllen. The paid attendance for his card was just over 1,500.
The bottom line is when you start to give away tickets on a regular basis, that particular market becomes toxic. Ord understands that dynamic and how it may adversely affect his efforts to get people who actually paid for their tickets through the turnstiles.
“It did hurt a lot; I think it’s hurting boxing here in Texas because we don’t have an income that Vegas has or New York or Los Angeles. When you give tickets away, people get used to it really quick,” said Ord, who, ironically, himself had a freebie for Figueroa-Burns. “I heard tickets were going really, really slow, so I thought it was just going to be an empty venue the day of the fight. But I got t a free ticket also for that fight; I did go watch the fight with a free ticket that a friend of mine gave me and the arena was packed. But they gave away more than half of the tickets.”
Ord says the local fighters did a good job of making sure the lower bowl was filled. Without the expected walk-up, the upper levels were sparse. “There was nothing going on the day of the event, so it’s not like we were competing against a concert or entertainment.”
As the event last week loomed, the venue asked him about dumping tickets.
“I was there like two or three times and they were like, ‘Hey, are we going to start giving out free tickets?’ because we don’t make money on the concessions; the arena does,” pointed out Ord, who ran the promotion in conjunction with Top Rank. “So they wanted people in the seats and they told me, ‘You’re the promoter; you have the final say but people are calling and they want free tickets.’ I said, ‘We’re not giving free tickets. I’m not making money on the TV; Top Rank is. I need the people in the seats.'”
People who actually paid.
3 KNOCKDOWN RULE
Mario Lopez and I are back with the first of two new installments of “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”
Fred Kassi has been tabbed to face Chris Arreola on July 18 in El Paso…A junior middleweight crossroads bout between Vanes Martirosyan and Ishe Smith is being kicked around for late summer…Geez, some of these ridiculous contracts being offered to marginal NBA players, I’m beginning to think they are part of the PBC…So the Lakers will get a big man, right?…There’s some serious turmoil going on on FX’s “Tyrant”..I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.