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Golden Boy and Hopkins File Suit Vs. Haymon, His Backers

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WEDNESDAY EARLY PM UPDATE: NY based boxing promoter Lou DiBella didn’t hold fire when I asked for comment regarding the lawsuit lodged by Oscar De La Hoya, along with Bernard Hopkins, against Al Haymon and cohorts.

“Eff that,” he said, using more dismissive and pointed language in indicating his distaste for the Golden Boy suit, and he then pointed out that he was instrumental in helping draft the Muhammad Ali act, which the suit alleges is being trampled upon. That document seeks to help keep managers from acting on behalf of promoters–as it was alleged, say, Carl King might have been inclined to do when repping a fighter, but also doing a deal with his father, the promoter Don King–in order to insure fighters are being represented in good faith, and receiving fair market value compensation for their services

DiBella took issue with the characterization that Haymon is in fact the promoter for Premier Boxing Champions cards, and said, “Why don’t you ask Brett Yormark (CEO of Barclays Center) who promoted the April 11 card which drew about 12,000 people to the arena?”  DiBella also noted that he has some familiarity with miuch of the material within the suit, having graduated from Harvard Law School. Not to mention, as for the contention that Golden Boy is being harmed by Haymon’s supposed attempt at monopolization, DiBella pointed out that Golden Boy seems to be competed on an even playing field, being that they are putting on a high-profile card Saturday, in Texas, which will screen on HBO.

Laywers inside the pugilistic arena are getting workouts of late.

A suit was filed on Tuesday, in federal court, in California, by Golden Boy Promotions. Lawyer Bert Fields heads up a suit on behalf of Golden Boy Promotions and also Bernard Hopkins, alleging that mogul Al Haymon wishes to monopolize pro boxing “and drive out all competition.”

Haymon, the suit states, has violated the Ali Boxing Reform Act and the Sherman Act, which deals with antitrust issues.

The suit calls Haymon “predatory” and “the Rasputin of boxing.”

I reached out to a Haymon Boxing rep to get their take on the suit, and was told that Haymon, notable for his reclusiveness in dealing with media, is choosing at this time not to comment on the matter.

His money backers, funding his Premier Boxing Champions series, which rolled out amid massive fanfare earlier this year, are also named in the suit.

The suit further states that Haymon functions as both a promoter and manager, basically, and that he has engaged in “illegal conduct” which is “designed to eliminate all competition.” It is stated that Haymon has a “total domination of the market for managing of Championship-Caliber Boxers,” and thus he holds too much power, to an extent the courts must weigh in and decide the matter.

A promoter shouldn’t and can’t act as a manager of a boxer, and Haymon might, I believe, counter that he does not act as a promoter, and thus, there is no conflict. Further, he may put forth that the Ali act was put in place to benefit boxers, keep them from being exploited, and he might counter that boxers he advises are in fact being paid handsomely, and are not being exploited.

Further, the suit states that Haymon’s money backers, namely a NY-firm named “Waddell,” at one point offered to purchase Golden Boy, but asked that head of Golden Boy De La Hoya sign a non-compete agreement. That deal going unconsummated, the suit says, meant Haymon next tried to “drive Golden Boy from the boxing business.”

Haymon possesses an unlawful edge, Fields contends, because he acts as both manager and promoter to a parcel of fighters.

More allegations…Haymon fighters must sign “coercive contracts,” part of a play in “turning the model upside down.” Also, Fields accuses Haymon of “scalping” tickets to unnamed shows Haymon Boxing has helped put together, or he has a hand in arranging, and posits that proper taxes are not paid on that revenue. More material; the suit states that Haymon also functions as a sanctioning body and intend to have their own champions.

Expect said lawyers to engage most aggressively in what is sizing up to be a 15 round clash.

Here is the release sent out by Golden Boy on Wednesday morning:

LOS ANGELES (May 6): Golden Boy Promotions today filed a $300 million lawsuit against Al Haymon and his related companies and Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. and its related hedge funds, alleging their repeated violation of the antitrust laws and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. The case was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles.

Since the moment Al Haymon launched Premier Boxing Champions, he has repeatedly and brazenly broken the letter and spirit of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act that is meant to protect fighters from exploitation. As part of an anti-competitive conspiracy that includes financial backers from Waddell & Reed, Haymon has “entered into agreements to restrain trade in a substantial portion of the market for promotion of Championship-Caliber Boxers,” the bombshell new lawsuit claims.

“During my 25 years in boxing, I have watched far too many fighters be chewed up, spit out and left with nothing to sit idly by while Mr. Haymon flaunts a federal law meant to protect those who put everything on the line to entertain fans of our sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Founder and President of Golden Boy Promotions. “The Muhammad Ali Act was passed to help fighters avoid the fate that bedeviled so many of our predecessors; and I will do everything in my power to ensure this crucial piece of legislation is upheld and followed.”

The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Ali Act and antitrust statutes by Haymon, among the most glaring of which is that he routinely serves as both manager of his fighters and promoter of their fights, even though such a dual role is explicitly prohibited by the Ali Act in order to “protect boxers, the boxing industry, and the public from abusive, exploitive, and anticompetitive behavior.”

According to the lawsuit: “By ignoring the ‘firewall’ established by the Ali Act, the Haymon Defendants are essentially sitting on both sides of the bargaining table. While purporting to act in their clients’ best interests, the Haymon Defendants have obtained direct and indirect financial interests in promoting their boxers – thereby creating the very conflict of interest the Ali Act sought to remedy.”

Haymon calls himself a “manager” or an “advisor,” yet Haymon and his myriad of companies are well known to arrange and contract for the bouts, the arenas, the sponsors and the television time – all duties of a boxing promoter. Even Haymon-managed fighters themselves repeatedly refer to Haymon as their “promoter,” though he is well-known to manage more than 100 fighters.

Haymon is, not only pushing out other legitimate promoters in favor of ineffective puppets that he controls, but locking out top fighters who dare to not join his stable of boxers.

“At the age of 50 and after spending most of my adult life in boxing, I thought I’d seen every trick in the book aimed at undermining those who actually step into the ring,” said former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Bernard Hopkins. “Having personally been refused a lucrative fight with a Haymon-managed fighter, I have felt first-hand the impact of Haymon’s attempt to form a monopoly. These practices are detrimental to boxers, fans and the sport as a whole,” added Hopkins, a co-owner of Golden Boy Promotions.

The complaint alleges that Waddell & Reed and related companies aided and abetted Haymon in his commission of the claimed violations of law.

The Golden Boy Suit comes days after the Association of Boxing Commissions called on newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate Haymon for many of the same infractions spelled out in today’s lawsuit.

As part of the lawsuit, Golden Boy is seeking damages of $300 million.

A copy of the lawsuit is available upon request.

Details of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act can be found at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/106/hr1832

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Brandon Figueroa KOs Nery and Danny Roman Wins Too

David A. Avila

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LOS ANGELES-Brandon Figueroa took the air out of Mexico’s Luis Nery to win by knockout and unify the WBA and WBC super bantamweight titles on Saturday. It was a belly buster that did the job.

Texan Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) set out to prove that Tijuana’s two-division world champion Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) could not endure a toe-to-toe battle with the bigger guys and he proved it before several thousand fans at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

It was a back-and-forth battle that saw Nery attack the body and head while Figueroa focused on winging big blows from a distance and in close. Many of the rounds were extremely close to score.

When Nery was able to battle from a distance and dive inside, he seemed the much more athletic between the two champions. But Figueroa just seemed stronger and unfazed by any of the Mexican fighter’s blows.

Though Figueroa absorbed a lot of punishment, he never seemed in trouble. When Nery connected with a several combinations in the fifth round by landing five-punch and three-punch combinations, it looked like he was taking control.

He did not.

Figueroa opened the sixth round with two left hook blasts that reminded Nery that the taller Texan had a punch. When Nery tried to rally with his own blasts, Figueroa slipped under back-to-back left hooks. It seemed to change the tide.

“I knew he was getting tired,” said Figueroa. “He was trying to box me.”

In the seventh round Figueroa was able to connect with a left hook and followed up with a lead right. Nery countered with a three-punch combination that was met with Figueroa countering with a three-punch combination to the head and body. Then both fighters exchanged inside and Figueroa connected with a right to the chest and a left uppercut to the solar plexus and down went Nery.

Nery could not beat referee Tom Taylor’s count and was counted out at 2:18 of the seventh round.

Figueroa is now the WBC and WBA super bantamweight unified champion.

“It feels amazing,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me.”

Roman Wins Super Bantam Eliminator

Los Angeles-based Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) battered Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs) to win convincingly by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a super bantamweight fight.

After a slow start Roman began to out-maneuver the heavy-punching Espinoza and found openings for left uppercuts. Boy did he find openings.

“I concentrated on finding my distance,” said Roman.

Roman snapped Espinoza’s head back so many times it seemed that the Mexican fighter would not be able to last the full 10 rounds. But like most Mexican fighters he would not quit.

Espinoza tried every move in his catalogue but nothing worked against the superb technique used by Roman, who formerly held the IBF and WBA super bantamweight world titles. It was a perfect example of technical prowess defeating raw power.

The uppercut was the chosen weapon of choice and Roman exhibited how to throw it from various positions and angles. It landed perfectly every time as if targeted by a laser. Espinoza never could avoid the uppercut.

During the last three rounds Espinoza’s face was bloody and battered while Roman looked as if he were merely sparring. The end seemed near but the fighter from Tijuana battled until the final bell.

“I thought he was going to go down,” said Roman. “But he had a big heart.”

All three judges scored it for Roman at 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

“It’s a step closer to getting back my titles,” said Roman who lost the titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev a year ago by split decision. “I’m here to fight the best.”

Martinez Beats Burgos

Sacramento’s Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) discovered that Tijuana’s Juan Carlos Burgos (34-5-2, 21 KOs) still has plenty of fight remaining and showed it with a gutsy 10 rounds of back-and-forth battering. Still, Martinez won by unanimous decision though every round was competitive.

Boy was it competitive.

Martinez, 23, had a 10-year advantage in youth but was unable to convince Burgos. Every round saw savage combinations connect by each fighter, but the judges all felt that the Sacramento fighter was superior. All three scored it 99-91 for Martinez. The crowd booed the decision.

“I was landing the cleaner shots,” said Martinez. “He’s a tough competitor.”

Other Results

A super lightweight match saw Jose Valenzuela (8-0) knock out Nelson Hampton (7-4) in the first round.

Gabriela Fundora (1-0) won her pro debut by unanimous decision over Jazmin Valverde (2-2) in a four round flyweight match. Fundora is the sister of super welterweight contender Sebastian Fundora.

A lightweight bout was won by Justin Cardona (5-0) by first round knockout of James De Herrera (4-7).

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Buatsi Flattens Dos Santos in Manchester; Charr KOs Fraudulent Lovejoy in Cologne

Arne K. Lang

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In a Knockout of the Year candidate, rising light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) leveled Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, an unheralded Frenchman, in the fourth round, closing the show with a pulverizing right hand – and for good measure, touching him with another right as he fell. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for England, the Ghana-born Buatsi trained for two months in the California Bay Area under his new trainer Virgil Hunter and his American sojourn paid dividends.

Dos Santos, who found his way to boxing after serving three-and-a-half years in prison, was undefeated (15-0, 8 KOs) coming in, but hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He was knocked down earlier in the fight with a chopping right hand. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth when Buatsi put Dos Santos to sleep, and to his credit he did not celebrate but consoled his distraught victim.

Other Bouts

In a shocker, 31-year-old southpaw Jason Cunningham improved to 29-6 (6) with a unanimous decision over Gamal Yafai (18-2) who was making the first defense of the European bantamweight title that he won in Milan.

Cunningham had Yafai on the canvas three times — knocking him down with left hands in the second, fourth and sixth rounds — but Yafai, the younger brother of former 115-pound world title-holder Kal Yafai — wasn’t deterred and kept coming forward. In the end, however, Cunningham’s lead was too big for Yafai to overcome. The judges had it 115-110 and 114-111 x2 for the southpaw who was a consensus 10/1 underdog.

Super middleweight Lerrone Richards breezed to a lopsided 12-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni DeCarolis to snatch a vacant European title. Trained by Dave Coldwell, who previously handled Tony Bellew, Richards was content to rack up points and the one-dimensional DeCarolis, who was making his first start in 23 months, had no way to stop him.

The judges had it 120-108 and 119-109 twice. The London-born Richards, whose family roots are in Ghana, improved to 15-0 (3). This may have been the last rodeo for the 36-year-old DeCarolis who fell to 28-10-1.

Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) was fed a softie for his first defense of his European cruiserweight title in the form of 36-year-old Romanian Alexandru Jur who brought a 19-4 record but had defeated only four men with winning records. Except for a few brief moments, Jur showed little inclination to mix it up. McCarthy put Jur down with a body punch in round four and finished him off two rounds later with another body punch. The official time was 2:09.

McCarthy, who is of Irish and Jamaican descent, moves on to a date with fellow Brit Chris Billam-Smith. Jur lost for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Cologne

Credit Christopher Lovejoy for having the gumption to defy Don King who threatened legal action if Lovejoy went ahead with his match today with WBA “champion in recess” Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr. But the 37-year-old Lovejoy, who arrived in Germany all by himself, traveled a long way to destroy whatever credibility he may have had. Fighting off the grid, he had rung up 19 fast knockouts in 19 fights against 19 presumptive Tijuana taxi drivers.

Carrying 306 ½-pounds, the six-foot-five Lovejoy lasted less than two full rounds against Charr who was making his first ring appearance in 42 months. Lovejoy was counted out after being dropped with a volley of punches in the second round.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

The super bantamweight division was virtually unknown by most fans of prizefighting for the last decade.

Then Danny Roman arrived and re-booted the 122-pound division virtually by himself by challenging and defeating world champions from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) no longer holds the world titles but itches to regain his footing when he fights Ricardo Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday May 15. Showtime will televise the battle on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

“Everything I do in boxing from here on out is to regain my status as a world champion,” said the normally ultra-reserved Roman, 31.

Ironically, both Roman and Espinoza turned their careers around with numerous battles at boxing shows in Ontario, California. They entered as boys and emerged as battle-tested men.

For the last 20 years Thompson Boxing Promotions has been pumping out world champions and contenders at a furious rate despite their small size in Southern California. They do not pamper or cajole their prospects.

Both Roman and Espinoza suffered their first losses as professionals at Thompson Boxing’s bloody battles at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. But despite losing, they continued to learn and evolve. Now they meet in Los Angeles on the big stage.

When Roman lost to Japan’s Takashi Okada in 2011 and Juan Reyes in 2013, that could have derailed the Los Angeles-based fighter for good. Instead, he re-grouped and reloaded to become a unified world champion. Roman traveled to Japan and won the WBA super bantamweight world title by stoppage of Shun Kubo in 2017. A couple of years later after several defenses, he clashed with WBO super bantamweight titlist TJ Doheny to win an incredible battle by decision in Los Angeles. It was perhaps the Fight of the Year in 2019 and gained Roman the WBO belt.

Though Roman lost both the WBA and WBO titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, it was a disputed split decision. Many felt Roman was the true winner. So now he must battle back toward the top.

Espinoza also fought many bloody affairs at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario including his first two losses. He lost to Sam Rodriguez in 2016 and Christian Nieto in 2017. Then the power-punching fighter from Tijuana, Mexico knocked out 12 of 13 of his opponents to gain a world title fight that he lost in April 2019. Since then, he has returned to his winning ways and upset undefeated Brandon Valdes last year.

“Danny Roman has fought some really quality opponents that are high in the rankings, but this is my time. This is when I show that I can step up in competition and prove that I belong with the best,” said Espinoza who is very familiar with Roman.

The Tijuana fighter is a punching machine.

“This is not going to be an easy fight because I know my opponent is a tough fighter from Tijuana who is coming with everything he’s got. He’s got a lot of power, so I must be smart on how I throw my combinations,” said Roman who lives within 10 miles of the event. “I believe my experience in big fights is going to be the difference on May 15. I’m expecting a rough fight and I’m ready for an intense battle.”

Now the two veterans of the Ontario, California wars finally meet each other to see who advances toward a world title fight. They won’t have to look far. The main event pits two titleholders against each other.

Unification Battle for Super Bantam Belts

Mexico’s Luis Nery holds the WBC super bantamweight world title and faces Texan Brandon Figueroa who holds a version of the WBA super bantamweight title in the main event on the Dignity Health Sports Park card on Saturday. Showtime will televise.

Nery formerly held the bantamweight title too. But the Tijuana-based fighter had problems making weight and wisely moved up a weight division. So far, the extra pounds hasn’t been a problem.

The problem facing Nery is Figueroa has a solid chin.

Figueroa may look like a pretty boy but he fights like he’s ugly. The Weslaco, Texas native has firepower and a rock chin but does he have the skills to match Nery?

“I come forward. I bring the pressure and I’m definitely going to bring the power, the size and all the advantages I have to make sure that we give the fans a great show. I do respect him as a fighter but we’re just going to have to find out Saturday,” said Figueroa whose brother Omar Figueroa fought in the same venue two weeks ago.

Nery has quickness and agility to supplement his power. He also has experience in world class opposition and that’s something Figueroa lacks.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring,” said Nery, a boxer-slugger. “This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

The winner of this clash will hopefully meet the winner of Roman and Espinoza. That would really heat up the super bantamweight division to blue hot levels.

Some of my favorite fighters of the past occupied the super bantamweight division like Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez who twice fought in this same venue. His third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 was voted Fight of the Year for its brutal but spectacular display of super bantamweight power.

The winners of this quasi-super bantamweight tournament can equally achieve the same kind of greatness those former stars achieved. This is a good start.

Fights to Watch (All times are Pacific Coast)

Friday UFC Fight Pass 5:30 p.m. Heather Hardy (22-1) vs Jessica Camara (7-2); Melissa St. Vil (13-4-4) vs Olivia Gerula (18-18-4).

Friday Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Denilson Valtierra (14-0) vs Emanuel Lopez (30-12-1).

Sat. DAZN 10 a.m. Lerrone Richards (14-0) vs Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Luis Nery (31-0) vs Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1); Danny Roman (28-3-1) vs Ricardo Espinoza (25-3).

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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