What a difference a year makes for Al Haymon.
Turn the clock back 12 months and the super secretive boxing mogul appeared to have ripped the status-quo to shreds with his Premier Boxing Champions concept. We detailed in these pages how taking the sweet science back to terrestrial TV here in the United States would help bring the sport back to the masses and see a new generation of fans racing to ringside.
A fighting stable bursting with talent and with a fistful of dollars backing his idea of continually getting the best to fight the best UFC style, looked to be working a treat.
I attended three shows in quick succession and the noticeable tweaks – the incredibly lavish TV sets, the fighters walking out alone to ensure the focus remained sharp – gave the events a different , fresh feel. Fight fans disillusioned with extortionate pay-per-view bouts were given a bounty of options here with NBC, Spike, ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS all jumping on board.
It was great to start with. Needless to say , it hasn’t lasted. Bouts have dried up – last Tuesday’s clash in Santa Fe between Bryant Perrella and Yordenis Ugas was the only PBC event scheduled recently and flew so far under the radar it was barely detectable – and so has the money.
All bells and whistles have been scaled back too. Around $20 million was paid to NBC for airtime though nothing is scheduled on the network for the remainder of 2016. There could be some action elsewhere but not in the vast numbers initially seen.
Allot of inactive Al Haymon fighters needing to get back in there but unwilling to lace them up for the market value.— Laceupboxing (@Laceupboxing) September 28, 2016
An incredible $500m was splashed from the outset and with primary financial backers Waddell Reed revealing they have lost $433m over the last 12 months, it’s obvious that PBC are beginning to sink. Massive sums were paid to fighters though the money at the gates and advertising fees didn’t come close to balancing the books.
In 2015 , $19.2m was laid out in purses yet Haymon saw only $3.9m recouped through ticket sales. The idea was to take a risk in the hope of it catching fire three to five years down the line. Rival promoters , however, have been far harder to shove out of the way. The boxing business has bitten back.
Of course, Haymon won’t be seen on the street corner begging for food anytime soon. The former Harvard business graduate enlisted himself as an advisor, rather than a promoter, ensuring his cut was never in jeopardy. He couldn’t lose either way. That 10 per cent will keep coming every fight night. His cabal of 200 fighters remains strong though the inactivity of many is beginning to grate.
I understand most have been told to forget about appearing again this year. Welsh featherweight world champion Lee Selby has fought just twice in 17 months since signing with Haymon. Danny Garcia needs action. Others are looking for new promotion. Certainly all the major fights left in 2016 have nothing to do with PBC.
Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward on November 17 is an HBO PPV backed by Roc Nation while Top Rank – whose owner Bob Arum settled a lawsuit earlier this year following bitter complaints of Haymon unfairly carving up the market in an illegal dual role of promoter and advisor – are putting on Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring the week before.
It’s a real mess and with De La Hoya’s legal action still pending, it could get worse.
“The PBC folks have kept everything under some sort of shroud of secrecy, but the fighters and their camps have been vocal as of late, “ said a well placed boxing source. “I’ve heard about fighters eager for their contracts with him to expire, which begs the question : Does Al retain ‘advisor’ roles with those guys? There are clearly huge problems. I don’t know how they are going to try and salvage this. It seems to be an abysmal failure.”
What started as a fascinating experiment three years ago is fast becoming a nightmare for all involved. There had been plans to bring the PBC to the UK though nothing has transpired. Everything appears to be on a downward spiral.
Haymon’s next move will be interesting – and decisive.
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