The Big Question: Is Al Haymon good or bad for boxing?

Boxing Monthly
09/08/2015 11:01am

'Is Al Haymon - good or bad for boxing? Is the mysterious advisor creating a monopoly or reinvigorating the fight game by showcasing 'free boxing for all'? Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares is the best PBC match to date, but should we expect better fights given Haymon's vast stable of fighters?' Boxing Monthly's online team give their verdict in this week's 'Big Question'.

I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to those attempting to bring more boxing to the world, especially on network television here in the United States. But my biggest issue with Haymon, other than some of the questionable practices behind the scenes, is that I don't comprehend the the PBC business plan thus far. 

1) There seems to be a mentality of ‘throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks’ in regards to the networks, which goes against the normal template of sports programming branding. 

2) I've seen zero marketing of PBC fighters to casual fans. Why haven't Garcia, Thurman or Wilder been on any of the late-night shows, mainstream sports programs, or national cable news networks? 

3) For every Santa Cruz-Mares matchup, there have been numerous Stevenson-Bika type matches. 

4) For PBC to succeed Haymon will eventually have to work with rival promoters. The current ‘cold war’ scenario may cause irrevocable damage to the entire boxing industry down the road. The last network that went ‘all in’ with Al Haymon and ignored everyone else (Showtime) is the midst of having their worst year of boxing in over a decade. 

So is Al Haymon good or bad for boxing? It's probably too soon to tell. Here's to hoping that time proves he is the former and not the latter. - Michael Montero.

Haymon is very definitely seeking to create a monopsony – where for aspiring fighters, the PBC becomes the only game in town. Whether that’s good or bad for the sport remains to be seen, however, boxing has been crying out for one central form of governance for decades now. I recall the late Glyn Leach responding to a reader’s letter some years back (that had bemoaned the fractured state of the sport) and Glyn prophesised then that it would take someone with an astronomical amount of money to repair it. That sounded like wishful thinking at the time but maybe Haymon’s that guy?

Returning boxing to terrestrial TV is another positive step forward, however, the quality of fights needs to improve if they’re looking to increase their Neilsen ratings. The PBC will need to corner the market before that occurs you’d imagine. If we’re currently in the midst of a transition period – a brand-building stage - then you’d hope things would improve over the coming years. If the PBC go on to implement their own ratings and championships (singular in each division) then that structure, by its very nature, lends itself to more competitive matches. – Andrew Harrison.

It's too early to say whether or not Haymon's experience is good or bad for the sport. In the short-term, it's been good for the fans. Although we're not necessarily seeing the most competitive fights, we are seeing fighters we wouldn't usually see on free television. As well, the sport has been more accessible to new fans. Fighters seem to be happy with the financial security he's offered.

What this deal looks like in two or three years is what really interests me. It's hard to imagine that Haymon is making much money off these shows right now consider the purses and paying for television time. Can he establish his monopoly before he runs out of money? I don't think so. – Shawn W. Smith.

Whether Al Haymon is good or bad for the sport of boxing we won't know for a few years at least. In the short-term, I think he's been a refreshing change to the old guard (Top Rank, Main Events etc) bringing boxing back to Network TV and having his fighters box regularly can only be good for the sport. Boxers who are signed with him only have good things to say and are paid higher than ever. The PBC match-ups so far have been okay without being spectacular. I get the impression that Haymon is just dipping his toe in, giving the networks a taste of what they can have without giving them the whole meal, probably looking to get a long-term investment from a major network before giving them the really big fights.

One reason why fans and media are sceptical of Haymon is the mystery around him; he doesn't do interviews, he's not ringside at the fights etc. It's different. There is a fear that he's trying to create a monopoly but would that be such a bad thing? I don't think it would be. One thing I hope it does achieve is to get the sanctioning bodies working together again, encouraging unification instead of stripping fighters for attempting to unify the titles. - Callum Rudge.

It feels like when the deal was announced that the sport took one step forward and now we're one, maybe two steps back.

It doesn't help that we have no idea who the man is, what his long-term plans are... heck, just some soundbites would be nice.

Boxing on free TV is terrific, the sport always welcomes such news, but the free for all sales tactic is a get out of jail free card which is used against those who hardly follow the sport and only watch the PBC shows, a slightly more forgiving bunch. Just because it's free doesn't mean that the quality should be diluted.

Rumours of PBC titles as well as the stripped down to the bones nature of the broadcast doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. Boxing is theatre, sporting drama and, if the fights are poor, then sometimes who sang them in during the ring walk, why the fighter was carried in on a chair or an entrance that takes longer than the fight can be a nice memory.  

Mares v Cruz is a decent match-up but it had a more complimentary description a while ago. It’s a fight that has taken too long to make. If the powers that be are salivating at this bout, and believe that we should be grateful, then I worry. Some of the better PBC fights have come from ones that many didn't believe would deliver.

It's early days and I'm not writing it off just yet (Rome in a day and all that) but a report card would read, 'must do better'. - Shaun Brown.

It’s still far too early to know what impact Haymon will, or wants to, have on boxing. He clearly has some cash behind him, and he’s got some of the better-known talents in and around 147 pound weight class.

If his goal, as many have speculated, is to run boxing in the manor that the UFC operates, I don’t think it will happen. UFC is still a relatively new entity, where as boxing has more arms and legs then one man could possible contain.

The governing bodies will not put their belts away, and say goodbye to sanctioning fees, just because Haymon won’t necessarily jump into bed with them.

As long as there is another promoter with sufficient financial clout, and a willingness to develop their own stars, world title belts will always be available to put around their waists. As long as that is the case, we will always ask, ‘Who would win between the PBC champ and the XYZ champ?’

One organisation to control boxing? Greed all but guarantees that will never happen. But there will certainly not be one recognised champion until the top promoters find a way to work together, match their fighters, and share the spoils. – Martin Chesnutt, TKO Radio.

Bottom Line: I think Al Haymon is good for boxing. However, the problem is that both he and the PBC are still relatively new, are an unknown entity and still have a lot of ‘mystery’ surrounding them.  I don't like the idea of the PBC creating their own title (as has been mooted). but if he can put together good matches, FOR ‘world’ titles - then what is not to like?  The danger is that if you create a monopoly it brings new problems and it becomes a cyclical process and then people leave.......  I think we will have to wait and see: the jury is out for the moment. Ask again in 12 months. – Colin Harris.

Al Haymon spent much of 2014 being maligned by boxing fans as he was the driving force behind mismatches such as Danny Garcia vs Rod Salka. As things stand, the jury is out on whether his Premier Boxing Champions brand is good or bad for boxing. On one hand, the last thing the sport needs is more titles - as he is strongly rumoured to be in the process of creating PBC belts. On the other hand, for his venture to be successful he has to create a brand that he can sell advertising slots for and the TV rights. The easiest way to achieve this is by utilising his vast stable to create must-see match-ups - in the way Dana White has with UFC. While not everything Haymon does will be positive if he can regularly produce cards where the best fight the best then his project will be considered a success for the fans. – John A. MacDonald.