Top Rank promoter Bob Arum's $100 million lawsuit against Premier Boxing Champions creator Al Haymon was dealt a blow when Judge John H. Walter dismissed its antitrust claims, one of the core aspects of the suit, in a written order Friday.
Walter also granted co-defendant Waddell & Reed's motion to be dismissed from the suit. Waddell & Reed is the Kansas City-based investment group that Haymon lined up to invest more than $400 million from its $40 billion hedge fund in order to bankroll the PBC.
Arum's lawsuit was filed in July in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. It contends Haymon's PBC series, for which Haymon has purchased tens of millions of dollars worth of time on a multitude of networks, including ESPN, NBC, CBS and Spike TV, is monopolistic and violates federal antitrust laws as well as the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which makes it illegal to act as both a manager, who has a fiduciary duty to a boxer, and a promoter, who does not. Top Rank alleges that Haymon serves in both capacities for most of the 200-plus fighters in his stable and merely hires what the lawsuit calls "sham" promoters to do his bidding.
Waddell & Reed was dismissed from the suit, with Walter ruling the company did not belong in it.
"The Court concludes that Top Rank has failed to allege sufficient facts to suggest that the Waddell Defendants entered into an illegal agreement to restrain trade," Walter wrote in his 24-page ruling, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.com.
Walter, however, gave Top Rank the opportunity to file an amended complaint against Haymon by Oct. 30. Top Rank said it plans to file one by the judge's deadline.
Walter wrote that while other promotional companies might have been injured by Haymon's business practices, Top Rank's existing complaint did not adequately provide examples of how it had been injured by Haymon.
"The Court concludes that Top Rank has not adequately alleged injury to itself," Walter wrote.
Walter also wrote, "Top Rank alleges that the Haymon Defendants engage in unlawful conduct in the form of exclusionary 'tie out' contracts, the use of 'sham' promoters, predatory 'payola practices,' and venue blocking. However, as the Haymon Defendants point out, Top Rank has failed to allege how it has been injured by the alleged conduct.
"Indeed, it has not identified a single bout that it has attempted to promote but was precluded from promoting by the Haymon Defendants, a single venue from which it has been blocked, or a single network that has refused to broadcast a fight promoted by Top Rank. Top Rank correctly argues that competitors who are 'frozen out' of a market by an antitrust violation have suffered antitrust injury and possess antitrust standing. However, Top Rank has failed to allege any facts demonstrating that it has actually been 'frozen out' by any of the Haymon Defendants' conduct."
Arum was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Haymon does not speak to the media, and PBC officials refuse to comment.
Golden Boy Promotions has a similar lawsuit pending, for $300 million, against Haymon.