Tuesday April 28th, 2015

LAS VEGAS—Golden Boy Promotions is preparing to file a lawsuit against powerful boxing manager Al Haymon, his company, Haymon Boxing and mutual fund manager Waddell and Reed, a significant financial backer of Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions series, multiple sources familiar with the litigation told SI.com. The lawsuit alleges Haymon’s business practices are in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and California’s Unfair Competition laws.

In draft copies of the suit, portions of which were viewed by and told to SI.com, Golden Boy is seeking monetary damages against Haymon and a temporary restraining order (TRO) followed by a permanent injunction against his business practices that violate federal and state laws.

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A Golden Boy spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment and it's unclear when Golden Boy plans to file the lawsuit. A message left for Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya was not immediately returned.

In its anti-trust argument, Golden Boy is expected to contend that Haymon is using his monopoly as a boxing manager—Haymon represents more than 150 fighters, legally creating a vastly larger market share than any other manager—to create another monopoly for promoting TV fights. The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, commonly known as the Ali Act, expressly prohibits managers from acting as promoters. While other promoters have accused Haymon of violating the Ali act in the past, legal sources briefed on the lawsuit believe a recent article in Sports Business Journal on the PBC—in which Haymon Boxing executive Ryan Caldwell was quoted about the PBC model—strengthened Golden Boy’s case.

On Wednesday, the Association of Boxing Commissions sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the Justice Department to investigate and take action against possible violations of the Ali Act by Haymon. The letter—a copy of which was obtained by SI.com—specifically cites Haymon’s PBC as a direct breach of the Firewall provision of the Ali Act that calls for the separation between manager and promoter.

California Unfair Competition laws prohibit fraudulent or misleading business practices. It is expected that Golden Boy will cite violations of the Ali Act again here; in addition, per legal sources familiar with the lawsuit, Golden Boy could cite article 396 of California’s Code of Regulations that prohibits “any member, stockholder, director or officer thereof or matchmaker or assistant matchmaker shall act directly or indirectly as manager of a boxer” and seek a TRO following a preliminary hearing and a permanent injunction if they win the case.

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If successful, both could hinder Haymon’s ability to operate the PBC in its current model. Haymon, however, will be able to rely on several defenses. It is possible the parties will ultimately reach a settlement out of court.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of litigations spearheaded by De La Hoya. Last June, Golden Boy filed a $50 million arbitration suit against former CEO Richard Schaefer; the dispute was settled in January. At the same time Golden Boy surrendered its promotional rights to many of its top boxers that were represented by Haymon. At the time, sources told SI.com said De La Hoya did it due to Haymon’s resistance to make competitive fights.

In March, Golden Boy sued featherweight champion Johnny Gonzalez, claiming Gonzalez was in violation of his promotional agreement. The suit was filed on the eve of Gonzalez’s title defense against Gary Russell Jr. According to Yahoo! Sports, Haymon, Russell’s manager, was likely one of several unnamed defendants that Golden Boy was also suing.

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