A federal judge denied Premier Boxing Champions creator Al Haymon's motion to dismiss Top Rank's $100 million lawsuit against him on Wednesday, allowing the case to proceed to discovery and, if it gets that far, a jury trial.
On July 1, Top Rank filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles contending Haymon's PBC series is monopolistic and violates federal antitrust laws as well as the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Haymon has purchased tens of millions of dollars worth of time for the PBC series on a multitude of television networks, including ESPN, NBC/NBC Sports Net, CBS, Spike TV, Fox/Fox Sports 1 and Bounce TV.
The Ali Act 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 has alleged 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.
In late October, Top Rank's case was dealt a blow when Judge John F. Walter dismissed its antitrust claims, one of the core aspects of the suit, in a written order. 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, which launched last March and has since put on more than 40 cards, with dozens more planned for this year and next.
Walter also gave Top Rank the opportunity to file an amended complaint, minus Waddell and Reed, against Haymon. Top Rank did that shortly after the ruling, and, in a two-page ruling on Wednesday, Walter dismissed Haymon's motion to dismiss the case and said it could proceed based on the amended complaint.
Walter wrote in his ruling that "although the Haymon Defendants' arguments are very persuasive," he did not believe that Haymon had presented enough evidence to warrant a dismissal.
"The Court concludes that the issues raised by the Haymon Defendants with respect to Top Rank's federal antitrust claims are more appropriately resolved on a motion for summary judgment," Walter wrote.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said he was pleased by the ruling in Top Rank's favor. He has had a fierce rivalry with Haymon for years that was only briefly set aside last year in order to finalize the revenue-record-shattering mega fight between Arum's star fighter, Manny Pacquiao, and Haymon's top client, Floyd Mayweather.
"I'm delighted with the ruling, but I don't want to discuss it any further," Arum told ESPN.com.
Haymon does not speak with the media. A Haymon spokesman declined to comment.
Haymon also faces a $300 million lawsuit from Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions filed on similar grounds.