Al Haymon: The Most Powerful Quiet Man In SportsBoxing, Fight Like Sugar — By Fight Like Sugar on May 30, 2013 at 9:58 am
In the boxing world few other names are more respected or feared. What makes Al Haymon unique is his nearly religious aversion to publicity. I doubt there’s another figure in all of sports who has so assiduously maintained a vow of silence with the press while at the same time wielding industry-wide power.
For years, Haymon has managed to avoid the headlines. But in 2013, as his number one advisee, Floyd Mayweather, signed quite possibly the most lucrative sports contract in history, Haymon’s name has been noticeably more present in the news (not least of which has been his recent listing as Sports Illustrated’s 42nd most influential man in sports). To be sure, his boxers — such as Danny Garcia (WBC/WBA light welterweight champion), Leo Santa Cruz (undefeated Mexican standout) and Andre Berto (former welterweight champion) to name a very select few — have always paid their respects to Haymon whenever an interviewer asked whom the fighter wanted to face next. Invariably the answer always seemed to be some version of, “Whatever Al Haymon wants.”
I don’t pretend to know basketball or tennis, football or golf, or pretty much any other sport the way I know boxing and MMA. My domain lies in fighting, in the one-on-one testing of wills via the primal act of combat. But I try to keep abreast of the major trends outside the ring, and I can’t remember the last time I heard multiple superstars in one sport say their careers were in the hands of one man, much less the same man. Professional athletes know better than anyone else the personal sacrifice and hard work it takes to get into the highest ranks of a sport. As a result, they guard their autonomy as best they can. But in boxing, not only do contenders and champions lay their career trajectories at the feet of Haymon, but fighters at all levels clamor for the opportunity to do so. Can you imagine Drew Brees, Tim Tebow and Michael Vick all saying they were each going to make a move to a new team based on whatever one man told them to do? And then can you imagine that same man refusing to give interviews or even be photographed about how and why he made a given decision? That is exactly what Haymon does for his boxers regularly. (Note that the picture above of Haymon is one of a highly select few available of the man.)
In the past, Haymon’s close relationship with HBO has been public but quiet — as is Haymon’s M.O. Max Kellerman, an HBO boxing announcer, however, recognized Haymon’s unusual influence on the network two years ago, after Andre Berto won Jan Zaveck’s IBF Welterweight title. At the time, one of the major criticisms of Berto was that he was fighting subpar opposition on HBO for huge paychecks — the result of Haymon’s handy work.