Can Al Haymon Get Amir Khan a Fight with Floyd Mayweather?

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Can Al Haymon Get Amir Khan a Fight with Floyd Mayweather?
Lefteris Pitarakis

Amir Khan hoped to be fighting Floyd Mayweather next weekend—instead he faces Luis Collazo on the undercard whilst the self-professed 'Money' man puts his unbeaten record on the line against Marcos Maidana.

Khan and Maidana were publicly pitted against each other in an online poll to decide Mayweather's opponent but, despite Khan winning that vote, the coveted opportunity went to the Argentinian slugger.

The English contender may have a win over Maidana from 2010 but he did not have the advantage of adviser Al Haymon, who signed "El Chino" to his growing stable last summer, first working together on the Adrien Broner fight.

This month Khan followed suit and joined forces with the reclusive Haymon, which, The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell wrote "should propel him to the front of the queue for a shot at Floyd Mayweather next year."

But that isn't necessarily true because Haymon also works with several plausible Mayweather opponents including Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Broner and even Collazo himself.

It almost goes without saying that Khan must beat Collazo to have any chance of sharing a ring with Mayweather. Beyond that one of the aforementioned crop of fighters needs to distinguish themselves, as Maidana did by upsetting Broner, to earn the right to fight Floyd.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It is easy to see the advantage of Haymon to Mayweather—the advisor smoothed the path for Mayweather to leave Bob Arum's Top Rank for more lucrative deals with Golden Boy and helped negotiate an excellent contract for his man when the Las Vegas fighter switched from HBO to Showtime.

In the past Haymon worked with only a handful of fighters, who at times appeared to receive special treatment. Back in 2010 Gabriel Montoya picked out Paul Williams and, in particular, Andre Berto as examples of this.

Despite doing mediocre TV numbers and once attracting fewer than 1,000 paying customers to a world-title defence, Berto repeatedly made $1 million paydays against average opposition.

This led Carlos Acevedo to dub him "the most overpaid headliner in boxing history" and "the human Bermuda Triangle of boxing."

Thomas Hauser noted at that time that, "HBO Sports has entered into contracts for bouts involving Haymon’s fighters that seem to defy logic."

Additionally, Hauser added that "sources say that Haymon has influence beyond the skills of his fighters and that it comes from a series of personal alliances as well as his ability to assist in providing talent for HBO entertainment specials."

Since then, Haymon has moved his fighters to Showtime and greatly expanded his reach, now working with at least 30 of the top fighters in North America.

It is harder to see the benefit he offers to the majority of his charges who fall short of Mayweather's super-stardom. Inherently their earnings are dictated by the live gates, television money and advertising revenue of the sport, none of which there is any reason to believe are significantly increasing.

When Haymon only had four or five top fighters, he could, using his strong negotiating skills and leverage, get them a bigger slice of the pie than they might otherwise. With 30-plus fighters, he is much more limited by the overall size of the pie.

So why have so many top light-welterweights and welterweights signed with Haymon? As Greg Bishop of The New York Times has argued, "Much of Haymon's influence is derived from his relationship with Mayweather."

To understand why Haymon is so powerful all you need to look at is the economics of a Mayweather bout compared to other top-level fight cards.

Estimates for the total revenue from Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez are as high as $200 million, whereas a standard, good level Showtime or HBO bill might gross $3-5 million.

Only Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao can consistently attract upwards of half-a-million pay-per-view sales in the US, with nobody else even close. Even a lesser Money or Manny event makes 15 times a regular premium network showing.

Thus, handling Mayweather's fights, as Haymon does, or Pacquiao's fights, as Arum does, gives you a big percentage of the boxing business through just one fighter.

Also, whilst in theory world champion boxers should be forced by sanctioning bodies to fight the best available opponents, in practice that is not the case, especially with Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Mayweather mainly holds titles of the WBC and Pacquiao the WBO and neither of those bodies, who earn sanctioning fees from their bouts, have been in the habit of enforcing mandatory fights on the sport's top earners.

That has allowed Mayweather to fight Golden Boy or Haymon fighters for six of his last eight (Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton were unattached but Hatton signed with Golden Boy immediately after), whilst Pacquiao has faced Top Rank fighters in seven of his last eight (with Shane Mosley being the sole free agent).

Furthermore neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao have seriously tried to unify the welterweight division and win multiple titles, not least because that would pit them against one another.

That has left promising fighters in the division to take one route or the other, looking to get in line against one of the sport's two cash cows for a big payday.

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In the history of boxing it has been the case that if powerful players control the champions and have a big say in who the champions fight against, then those players are likely to be able to negotiate a stake in the earnings of the very up-and-coming fighters who have the potential to topple their champions.

Last year Maidana signed with Haymon which facilitated a big chance for him against Broner, one of the sport's biggest TV draws and a fighter benefiting from a sustained hype campaign.

Maidana upset the apple cart but Haymon was winning either way—either Broner's star rose yet further or, as did happen—Haymon had a new PPV opponent in the Argentinian.

Would Maidana have got a shot at Broner without being signed to Haymon, or the shot at Mayweather? It is impossible to say because the details of the negotiations and their implicit conditions are not publicly known.

Since the disappointment of missing out this time, Amir Khan has certainly raised his chances of getting the "Money" fight by signing with Haymon—he is now in with the in crowd at Showtime boxing.

Ultimately, though, Mayweather will fight next against the opponent who will generate the most money, or, alternatively, the best risk-reward payoff—provided that opponent is not signed with Top Rank.

Haymon's position and influence in the sport is predicated on his ability to maximise Mayweather's money and keep him happy and if he thinks the opponent to do that is Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter rather than Amir Khan, the Englishman could well get left out in the cold again.

 

 

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