“This goes out
to all you haters out there:
Actin’ like a
brotha’ done did somethin’ wrong
‘cause he got
his game tight.
Don’t hate the
player; hate the game.”
will see a young man you’ve probably seen only twice fight for a vacant WBO
world title against a completely unknown fighter you will never see again live
on HBO. It’s become the norm on the network this year to have
titleholders/challengers fight people you’ve never seen on US soil fill the
fight slots against fighters either deemed as stars or fighters preordained to
become so. Hell, we have seen this even before this year. Think Andre Berto vs.
Miguel Rodriguez back in 2008 for a vacant WBC welterweight belt. That belt was
vacated by Floyd Mayweather Jr., a fighter advised by Al Haymon who also
happens to represent Berto. This weekend’s version of that fight is between
Adrien “The Problem” Broner and Vicente Rodriguez (no relation to Miguel).
Broner is also a Haymon-managed fighter.
Now some will
blame Broner, who won a highly contested (and very boring) decision over Daniel Ponce de Leon in March for his HBO debut before blowing
out Jason Litzau in one round. “He doesn’t deserve the shot.” “He lost to Ponce
de Leon.” “He’s just another Al Haymon fighter.”
And maybe they
are right but it seems to this writer that a fighter with good management is
not the problem. In fact, considering the careers of so many fighters, the respective
aftermaths of their high-profile fights and post-retirement lives, we should
encourage fighters to get better management that helps them get the most money
for each fight while helping them keep it in the long haul.
problem is that what you will see on HBO is not really the truth. The fight
will be shown in conjunction with Saul Alvarez vs. Kermit Cintron live in Mexico,
which is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. On this same card, you have Broner,
who is co-promoted by R&R Promotions out of his hometown in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Gary Russell Jr. also a Haymon
fighter. Both Broner and Russell have been featured on Golden Boy cards. From
what I understand, according to several sources, ranging from high-to-low-level
promoters to trainers and a few fighters, all of whom wished to remain anonymous
due to fear of reprisal, no fighter with Al Haymon is signed to a promotional
agreement. Meaning, when you see Andre Berto promoted by Lou DiBella or you see
Broner and Russell on a Golden Boy card, what you are seeing are promoters
taking a cut, getting a fighter on TV but having little-to-no say in when and
how that all happens. The person pulling the strings is the manager- Al Haymon.
Why is this a
problem? Well, if true, it’s breaking the Muhammad Ali Act or, putting it
simply, federal law.
17: Conflicts of interests (b) Firewall between Promoters and Managers.
(1) In General. ---It is unlawful for ---
A) a promoter to have a direct or indirect financial
interest in the management of a boxer; or
B) a manager----
(i) to have a direct or indirect financial interest
in the promotion of a boxer; or
(ii) to be employed by or receive compensation or
other benefits from a promoter, except for amounts received as consideration
under the manager’s contract with the boxer.
Now can I
prove this? Not with so many who seem to want to talk yet clam up when a
recorder is clicked on are afraid to go on record. When you press the Nevada State Athletic Commission about fighters and
their vanity promotional companies like Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions or
Mayweather Promotions, they are certainly open to telling you they do not have
licenses to promote and as such, really don’t exist. But when it comes to the
issue of Haymon, well, some commissions and fight people seem either unwilling
to talk or clueless to begin with on the subject.
In sum, what
you are seeing is a talented fighter who sells tickets in his hometown (these
are good things) maneuvered quickly up the super featherweight ranks to a title
shot despite controversially beating a featherweight and Jason Litzau (who is
not ranked in the top 15 by the WBO). He will do this against a Vicente
Rodriguez, who the WBO ranks at number six and, to be fair, was available while
the rest of the top five either just fought or are about to. Still, he is an
Argentinean who has fought only once outside the country (in Australia.
He lost by decision to William Kickett) and has beaten zero fighters of note.
Is Broner the
problem? No. Is Al Haymon and his ability to make this kind of magic happen the
problem? Well, again, no. This is boxing, the sport where everything is
possible. You can’t knock the hustle especially when the sport practically begs
to be hustled.
What is the
A sport that
refuses to recognize the Ali Act, which was so graciously given to it back in
2000 and was an extension of the Boxing Reform Act in 1996, that’s what. Boxing
loves to be like this. It loves having a fighter that fight fans were bored to
tears with in March back on its airwaves in June and once more for a title shot
in November. It loves backroom deals and promoters who are willing to use themselves
as human shields for, what I am told, not all that much money in order to slot
a name fighter on a major network. Oh, throw in some chaos in general for
garnish. Boxing will never leave the backroom. After all, that is its true hometown.
As for the
fight itself, Rodriguez should be very aggressive. Broner, the talented fighter
that he is, will shine and become a titleholder as he has dreamt for years of
I spoke with
Rolando Arellano on Friday and
he told me that the rematch with Andre Berto is not signed but that he sees no
reason why the fight will not happen as planned.
pertained to the drug testing issue in the fight, Arellano said he was all for
it. He told me he was open to comprehensive, cost effective and impartial
testing of any kind from USADA testing as was done in the Mayweather fight. I
asked if he was interested in something impartial like Dr. Margaret Goodman’s
proposed Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) and he said yes. Arellano seemed