By Scoop Malinowski
A grim reality of American boxing today is that Al Haymon’s top fighters are all stagnated in their progress and clearly not improving. Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence, Gervonta Davis, Adrien Broner, Adonis Stevenson all showed flashes of potential greatness a few years ago but in the proceeding years they have all failed to blossom into first rate, electrifying superstars.
There has to be an explanation. I have a theory. Haymon protects his key fighter assets so they don’t lose, so they don’t have to fight high risk opposition that he does not control. So these Haymon fighters quickly realize they are protected from danger and a natural sense of complacence sets in. They know they are not threatened, and their careers will be carefully mapped out. They know they will not have to fight anyone they don’t want to fight or who has a strong chance of beating them. Haymon will make sure Spence does not fight Terence Crawford, Wilder does not fight Dillian Whyte or Anthony Joshua or Usyk. Davis will not fight Lomachenko or Farmer. Broner and Stevenson were risked vs Maidana and Gvodzyk and failed miserably.
Haymon will not take any chances now with Spence, Wilder or Davis and they all know this. So they train with less drive, less ambition, less fear, less danger, less hunger, with less motivation and incentive to prove something. They go through the motions in everything they do in their training. And by not pushing to their limits, their results show the lack of improvement and progress. Aaron Pryor used to spar with heavyweights, he’d spar 25 rounds in a day. James Toney would spar ten minute rounds rotating fresh sparring partners.
The only way a fighter really improves is by facing adversity and danger and figuring out on his own how to prevail. All the greats passed their big tests and became masters – Leonard vs Duran, Hearns; Ali vs Frazier, Foreman, Liston; Lewis vs Ruddock, Golota, McCall; Klitschko vs Peter, McCline; Holmes vs Norton, Shavers; De La Hoya vs Quartey, Trinidad, Ruelas. We could go on and on.
In case you haven’t noticed, Haymon’s key fighters always seem to avoid their most threatening and dangerous opposition. They all take the paths of least resistance. And that is not the formula to maximize their potential for greatness, or to give the paying public the best fights, the best action. Haymon believes protecting his key assets is the formula to maximize his own profits and leverage in the sport. To have undefeated stars to sell and promote is what keeps Al Haymon in business.
Sure, Haymon’s key asset fighters are active and beating good opponents but they are not overcoming odds, adversity, threat, danger. They are beating opponents the oddsmakers expect them to beat.
Errol Spence can learn more about himself in one hour in the ring with Crawford than he could learn in ten fights. Same for Wilder vs Joshua and Whyte and Usyk. Same for Davis vs Lomachenko. But Haymon knows that his key asset fighters could lose all these fights. And that would end the Haymon PBC empire.
Floyd Mayweather once accidentally confessed that his career was “not about proving who was the best, it was about making smart business decisions to move me up levels.”
Spence, Wilder, Davis could all say the same thing. It’s not about proving who is the best, or trying to become the best — with Al Haymon fighters it’s about making as much money as possible.