By Bryanna Fissori
Gary Shaw Promotions (GSP) in conjunction with co-promoter Ken Thompson has recently filed suit against junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. They are seeking an injunction against the fighter who has claimed himself to be a free agent, meaning that he is available to sign on with other boxing promotions. Shaw and Thompson content that is not the case and that Bradley still owes them a fight under the contract extension signed in October 2010. The case has been filed in the 17th Judicial Court in Browed County, Florida.
The injunction would preclude Bradley from negotiating with anyone other than Shaw and Thompson for at least one additional fight. The original contract was extended for an additional two fights, but contained an expiration date of June 30, 2011. The extension coincided with a two-fight exclusive agreement with HBO for Bradley’s bouts, with the first taking place in January. The additional fight was then slated for July 23 and according to the plaintiffs, Bradley’s co-manager Cameron Dunkin agreed to the three week additional extension for the fight.
Bradley was originally chosen as the contender against Amir Khan for the July 23 bout, but was replaced by Zab Judah when he refused the match. Shaw and Thompson are claiming damages on the income they would have received from their 20 percent of the profits from the Khan/Bradley fight which they estimate to be over $450,000. The case also includes a cause of action against Dunkin and claims that he tortiously interfered with the fulfillment of Bradley’s contractual obligations by dissuading him from taking a fight with Khan and communicating with other promoters regarding Bradley.
Ironically, just weeks prior to the complaint against Bradley, a cause of action against Shaw was brought by boxer Alfredo Angulo in a roll reversal. Angulo is suing GSP for not promoting him in enough fights per their contractual agreement.
Angulo has been under contract with GSP since March 2007. Since 2008 he has had eight fights, none of which have been within the last year. The complaint states that boxing is the primary income for Angulo and without any prospective fights with GSP he sent a letter to Shaw in May requesting release from the contract. GSP’s attorney responded with refusal of the request.
According to New York State Athletic Commission’s regulations on promotional agreements a contract cannot be fixed for a term of more than three years. This means that the agreement would have technically expired in March 2011, the point of contention is that it contained an extension clause should Angulo achieve the title of “World Champion.” The extension would last the entirety of his title defense ranging through five bouts or three years. November of 2009 Angelo was named “Interim” World Champion by the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Angelo’s counsel asserts that the “automatic” extension violates New York Boxing Regulations, which states:
“No contract between a promoter and a boxer shall contain a provision permitting the contract to be automatically renewed or extended. Notwithstanding the foregoing, such contracts may contain a provision granting the promoter an option to renew for a period not to exceed one year . . . Such contracts may not contain more than two such options.” (19 NYCRR § 208.17(b))
His counsel also asserts that the “Interim” title is not the same as the actual title, though the point may be moot given the voidability of the contract due to the specific terms.
The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Because Angulo is not a United State’s citizen and the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000, the case can be brought in federal court under “diversity jurisdiction.” The court also has “federal question jurisdiction” because the case is strongly founded on the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which is a federal regulation.
Angulo’s counsel is claiming damages for an excess of $3 million for unjust enrichment, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, which they seek to have determined by a jury trial. They are also seeking a permanent injunction to release Angulo from the contract.
In both the Bradley case and the Angulo case GSP is fighting to have their contracts validated while the competitors content that the agreements are voidable. The difference between a void contract and voidable contract is that if all parties are satisfied with the agreement as it stands it may remain uncontested and therefore operate as a valid agreement. When the one party is dissatisfied and finds that the contract is not in compliance with all regulations they reserve the right to void the contract.
GSP has one boxer who wants to fight and wasn’t given the opportunity and another that does not want to fight, but was given the opportunity. Go figure.