By Dominic Long
Al Haymon manages more than 100 boxers, including Floyd Mayweather Jnr. He started out in music promotion, putting on 500 shows in one year. He has also brought boxing back to terrestrial television in America, establishing himself as one of the most powerful and influential men in the sport. Yet he is rarely seen in public and never gives interviews; even Mayweather refers to him as ‘The Ghost’.
Al Haymon was born in 1956 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio before studying Economics at Harvard. His older brother, Bobby, fought a young Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978 in the last of an unremarkable 30-fight career. Haymon’s first venture was into music promotion and he created many related businesses to control the various aspects of putting on a live concert by overseeing everything, among other things, the lighting, production and marketing, Haymon could simply slot in the artist as the final piece of the jigsaw.
He worked with singers MC Hammer, Whitney Houston and Mary J Blige as well as comedian Eddie Murphy and it was estimated he had put on around 500 shows and grossed £60million in 1991.
Haymon signs fighters to an ‘Exclusive Advisory Agreement’ that gives his company exclusive rights to their career. In return, Haymon is required to ‘use his best efforts to secure remunerative boxing matches for the boxer’ and ‘counsel them in the overall development of their career’.
Haymon charges around 10 to 15 per cent of a fighter’s purse for his services, less than a standard manager’s share. He helped Mayweather negotiate his way out of his contract with Top Rank for £750,000 in 2006 with the fighter later acknowledging, ‘If I would have had Al Haymon from the beginning, I probably would be a billionaire right now. Several years ago, commentator Max Kellerman also questioned Haymon’s role, saying, ‘There is a backlash in boxing against Al Haymon fighters because he wields influence out of proportion with others in boxing. He is able to get one of his fighters an eight-round fight on HBO against an over-matched opponent, a fight that wouldn’t normally be on HBO.’
Just a couple of years ago Kathy Duva of Main Events filed a lawsuit against Haymon for operating as a manager and a promoter, something that violates the Muhammad Ali Act. A manager’s job is to get the best deal for example getting the biggest purse, while a promoter’s job is to negotiate a deal that allows him to make the most profit from their show by driving down costs. To put it simply the two should be in direct competition with each other.