By Sean Crose
Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports is being sued by promoter Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing for essentially stealing away talented and rising star Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, then letting the man’s career fall to pieces. Artie Pelullo, who also promotes Andrade for Banner Promotions, has teamed up with DeGuardia for the suit.
According to court documents, Roc Nation offered DeGuardia’s Star Promotions two million dollars for Andrade’s contract. Per the New York Post, Roc Nation is said to have “also pledged to pay the former Olympian $550,000 to cancel a fight against Jermell Charlo in December 2014 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.”
Roc Nation reportedly went so far as to figuratively wine and dine the 21-0 Rhode Islander, taking both he and his family to their New York headquarters to meet Jay Z himself. Heady stuff for a young fighter on the rise. Problem is, after the brakes were put on the Charlo fight Roc Nation apparently lost interest in Andrade and the super welterweight never saw that half a mil he was expecting. What’s more, Andrade’s career subsequently went into a state of prolonged hibernation.
“Star Boxing,” the Post writes, “says it (the situation) has ruined their relationship with Showtime (who reportedly would have aired the Charlo fight), and Andrade is now damaged goods.” Since the matter has been taken to Manhattan Supreme Court, both sides will now surely be able to get their stories out.
Truth be told, Andrade has been a source of frustration for fight fans. He hasn’t entered the ring in over a year and appears to be sitting out his prime. An impressive knockout ratio and an Olympic pedigree have only added to the sense of wasted talent. In this, Andrade is not unlike Mikey Garcia, another popular fighter who has essentially gone MIA.
This lawsuit, however, may lead fans to view Andrade in a new light. When I spoke with DeGuardia earlier this year, he had the following to say about the man:
“He’s an extremely talented fighter. There’s some unfortunate decisions that he made. We’re working on a few different things.” Indeed. According to ESPNs Dan Rafael, the plaintiffs “are seeking at least $20 million in damages plus punitive damages, alleging ‘Roc Nation and Fried (as in Jeff Fried, a onetime Roc Nation consultant) acted willfully, maliciously, recklessly, wantonly and with intent to injure Star Boxing and Banner Promotions.’”
Twenty million dollars is a lot of money. The cost to Roc Nation, should it lose in court, could be more than monetary, however. For the company is trying to become a major player in the sport of boxing. Superstar Miguel Cotto is already on its roster, as is pound for pound great Andre Ward. Lawsuits such as this can often serve as a counterargument to those who claim that all attention is good attention.
To further complicate matters, the World Boxing Organization has threatened to take away Andrade’s junior middleweight title belt if he doesn’t get back in the ring soon. Like the boxing public, the WBO feels the man has been away for far too long.