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Legal Analysis: Don King Tavoris Cloud Sued For Breach Of Contract

Tavoris Cloud, Al Bonanni and Don King Production Face Charges for Collaboration Richie Boy Entertainment Sues of Breach of Contract and More…

By Bryanna Fissori
Legal Analyst

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, but for light heavyweight contender Tavoris Cloud (22-0) it really doesn’t matter the color if you are contractually obligated to the pasture.

In mid-April Richie Boy Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Cloud for breach of contract Cloud was retained by Richie Boy in February of 2009 from his previous promoter 8 Count Productions. Cloud’s IBF title fight against Clinton Woods in August of that year was promoted by Richie Boy, who also negotiated for an April 10, 2010 title defense against Glen Johnson. The bout didn’t take place until five months later and Richie Boy was not in the picture. Cloud won the bout via 12- round unanimous decision.

Richie Boy Entertainment is a Florida-based promotions company established in late 2008 and operated by company President Richard (Richie) Parrillo Jr.

Shortly after signing Cloud, Richie Boy hired Al Bonanni to run the boxing end of the company and serve as head trainer for Cloud. Bonanni was previously employed by Don King Productions (DKP) where he worked for around 30 years in the capacity of trainer, corner, cut man and talent scout amongst other duties. Most sources attest that Bonanni works on a handshake only and “has never had a contract with anyone.” He could not be reached to verify this statement though he may choose to bring out the pin and paper following the current dispute.

Prior to the defense against Johnson, Richie Boy terminated Bonanni, who essentially took Cloud with him. Bonanni introduced Cloud to his former boss Don King and DPK signed a promotional contract with Cloud, though he was still legally obligated by his contract with Richie Boy.

Richie Boy asserts that all of the bouts entered into by Cloud since being signed by DKP have been in breach of contract including the Johnson bout and his win against Fulgencio Zuniga last December. He now has a mandatory defense bout pending against Yusaf Mack (29-3-2) June 25 in St. Louis, Missouri at Family Arena. Cloud is currently at training camp at King’s gym in Orwell, Ohio preparing for the fight.

“I’m traveling east toward the rising of the sun, man,” Cloud said. “It won’t affect me as far as my training is concerned. When I’m in camp, I work hard as usual. On June 25, Yusaf Mack will be defeated.”

Cloud is only one of three defendants being sued by Richie Boy. The promotion company also intends to make DPK and Bonanni pay up. Both defendants face charges of Tortious Interference with Contract and Tortious Interference with Business Relationships. Bonanni will face additional charges of Fraudulent Misrepresentation and Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Boxing Insider diligently attempted to obtain a copy of the complaint, contract and comments from Richie Boy Entertainment, but calls and emails were not returned. DKP also denied to comment.

The charge against Cloud for Breach of Contract will set the tone for the remainder of the charges against the other defendants. If the court finds that there is no valid breach, then all other charges will likely be moot. Most fighter contracts are formatted either for a specific fight, a certain number of fights or a specific length of time. If Cloud still owed Richie Boy a certain number of fights or had remaining time on the agreement he will likely be found in breach. Richie Boy is looking to obtain monetary damages for the claim.

Richie Boy alleges Tortious Interference against both DPK and Bonanni. This charge is broken into two broad categories with one specific to contractual relationships and one specific to business relationships or activities. To succeed on the claim of interference with contract Richie Boy would have to prove that the defendants convinced Cloud to breach the contract or prevented him from fulfilling his contractual obligations. The defendants must have also had knowledge of Cloud’s contract with Richie Boy. Because of Bonanni’s relationship with Richie Boy as the Boxing Operations Manager the defendants would be hard pressed to convince a court that they were unaware of the contract.

The interference with business relationships claim is slightly less obvious since it is only available when the tortfeasor (defendants) does something to prevent the parties from establishing or maintaining business relationships. Because the relationship between Cloud and Richie Boy was previously established the court will look to the activities serving to prevent the parties from maintaining the relationship. Some jurisdictions assert that the action of hiring someone else’s employee is legal so long as it was not done to intentionally harm the previous employer. One could speculate that Bonanni may have motive to cause harm to Richie Boy, but that is compete speculation and would have to be proven by the plaintiff. The business interference claim will have a much higher likelihood of success if the contract interference sticks.

The final claims are specific to Bonanni. Fraudulent Misrepresentation is typically based on a false statement or intent. Without seeing the complaint it is difficult to speculate exactly what representation Richie Boy is asserting. Breach of Fiduciary stems from the business relationship between Bonanni and Richie Boy. A fiduciary duty is created when a person or party is obligated to act in the best interest of another person or party. The validity of this claim may hinge on the timing of when Bonanni approached Cloud about signing with DKP. If Bonanni was no longer employed by Richie Boy the court will have a more difficult time finding that he still had an obligation to act in the best interest of the company. If either of the charges against Bonanni are found valid, Richie Boy may also ask the court for punitive damages.

The defendants will like file a motion to dismiss the charges as is common practice. If the motion is denied, the parties will start preparing to be heard. Until then Cloud will continue to train for next month’s bout with Bonanni at his side and DKP at his back.

Since becoming champion Cloud has had a lot more to think about even before the case in question was filed. He stated in an interview before his bout against Zuniga in December, “I’m surrounded by a lot more hustlers. Not, surrounded, but people coming to you with a lot of trickery and stuff. You gotta be up on your toes, that’s why it’s good to have a trainer like Al Bonanni; who knows the business inside and out. He makes it hard for those guys to get to me; makes it impossible for them to get to me.”

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