AL HAYMON’S first Premier Boxing Champions show is in the history books – but what does it mean for the sport? Sitting ringside at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last weekend, I felt that Haymon’s venture got off to a solid start, but not an exceptional one.
All the bells and whistles (extra spotlights, solitary ring entrances etc) were a bit different, although they would seem routine to a boxing crowd in Germany. And while the Keith ThurmanRobert Guerrero headliner was exciting, the preceding Adrien BronerJohn Molina Jnr bout was a bore.
This was the first of 20 shows set to happen in 2015 as part of a “time buy” deal engineered by Haymon. That is, an organisation purchases airtime on a television network; this goes against the current format where a TV station pays a boxing promoter money for a show’s rights. Haymon has deals in place with several TV networks: the free-to-air NBC, who broadcast last weekend’s show, plus niche channel Spike TV, as well as cable network Showtime. The NBC and Spike deals are time buy, while Showtime is a continuation of the traditional paying model. There are also rumours that Haymon may soon have a time buy deal with ESPN.
So if anybody is going to revolutionise professional boxing, it’s going to be Al Haymon. He’s a very smart man, and his time buy venture is backed by serious money. That’s going to be needed over the next couple of years as it’s hard to see how his project can hope to turn a profit in the early going; the big money being spent on TV time can be made back only by advertisers taking out commercials during his shows.
Presumably, the long-term plan is that the high visibility of Haymon’s stable on US television will attract star names. He already acts as an adviser to about 150 boxers, many of them top class performers. (He is not a promoter, at least not officially; he uses lesser promoters such as Goossen Tutor, Lou DiBella and Warriors Boxing to stage the cards covered by his TV deals).
Haymon can match boxers he advises, placing them on the TV stations he considers appropriate to their status. On Friday (March 13) he is behind a Spike show in Ontario, California that features more Haymon welters as Andre Berto meets Josesito Lopez and Shawn Porter fights Roberto Garcia.
Perhaps, down the line, Berto could meet Lopez with the winner to fight Guerrero, while Thurman is now big enough to be worthy of fighting Floyd Mayweather (also a Haymon client). Haymon boxers could move up and down through the levels – and could they all  eventually be chasing a “PBC” belt? After all, in Vegas last weekend there was almost no mention of Thurman-Guerrero being for the former’s WBA strap. If Haymon can rid the sport of the sanctioning bodies, he’ll deserve every fan’s thanks.