Friday, July 5, 2024

Legal Roundup - Matchroom v. Jake Paul defamation case held up by inactive judge - plus status checks of other boxing related cases (and interesting articles this week)

BOXING ESQ. LEGAL UPDATES - week of July 1-7

Matchroom v. Jake Paul

In US Federal Court in the Southern District of New York, a long simmering defamation case between two of boxing's major players is sitting idle for reasons unknown. The original complaint was filed on September 26, 2022 with Matchroom Boxing Limited and Eddie Hearn as plaintiffs, alleging defamation against YouTuber turned boxer/promoter Jake Paul, after Paul stated in an interview that it was "blatently obvious" that Matchroom was paying off judge Glenn Feldman to score fights for Matchroom's fighters after Feldman turned in cards for Anthony Joshua in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk and Katie Taylor in her fight with Amanda Serrano.

Feldman joined the case as an intervenor plaintiff in October 2022. After a letter to the judge by Paul's counsel asking for a pre-motion conference regarding a motion to dismiss (MTD) based on lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, District Judge Paul Gardephe ordered limited discovery on the issue of jurisdiction. This "limited" discovery dragged on until the spring of 2023. The parties engaged in a settlement conference in late April 2023, but it was unsuccessful. Ultimately, Paul's counsel filed their MTD in August 2023. Matchroom and Feldman's counsel filed papers in opposition to the MTD shortly thereafter. On September 13, 2023, plaintiff's counsel sent a letter to Judge Galdephe requesting oral argument on the MTD.

At this point, the case went quiet.

By January 2024, the inactivity in the case prompted Paul's counsel to send a letter to the judge calling "to the Court's attention the fact that Defendant's motion to dismiss has not been decided wihtin ninety days of the time it was fully submitted" in contravention of the judge's own individual practice rules. It wasn't until April 15, 2024 that District Judge Paul Gardephe denied plaintiffs counsel's letter motion requesting oral argument on the MTD. This is the last entry on the case docket. Paul's MTD has been pending for nearly a year.

Neither counsel has responded to inquiries from this blog for comment.

Most recent filings:

Andy Cruz v. New Champion Promotions, Jesse Rodriguez, and Matchroom

In a wild donnybrook in the Northern District of California, Andy Cruz has sued New Champions Promotions (NCP), Jesse Rodriguez, and Matchroom USA for violations of the Ali Act (NCP and Rodriguez only), the boxing manager provisions of the California code (NCP and Rodriguez only), breach of contract (NCP only), breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (NCP only), breach of fiduciary duty (NCP and Rodriguez only), conversion (NCP and Rodriguez only), accounting (all defendants) and declaratory relief (all defendants).

Cruz's claims are in essence that NCP and Rodriguez signed him to a promotional contract and then a few months later brought him to Matchroom where he signed another promotional agreement. Cruz alleges that according to the Matchroom promotional contract, he was to receive a signing bonus of $125,000 and purses for his first three bouts of $125,000, $150,000 and $175,000 respectively. Cruz also alleges that the Matchroom promotional contract does not provide for NCP or Rodriguez to recieve a specific amount or percentage of those purses. However, approximately 25% of the signing bonus and Cruz's purses have allegedly been withheld by NCP.

Cruz originally filed the complaint in December 2023 and has already amended it twice. Matchroom and NCP have each filed crossclaims against each other, Matchroom crossclaiming for express indemnity, contribution, breach of contract and declaratory judgment and NCP crossclaiming for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional interference with a contract, negligent interference with a contract, intentional interference with economic advantage, negligent interference with economic advantage, breach of fiduciary duty, declaratory relief, unjust enrichment, and contribution.

Matchroom has additionally filed a motion to compel arbitration and dismiss Cruz's second amended complaint. NCP and Rodriguez have filed motions to dismiss Cruz's second amended complaint.

This is definitely an interesting case to keep an eye on as California has very favorable case law in regards to promoters being deemed managers (see De la Hoya v. Top Rank).

2nd Amended Complaint and Defendants' Responses:

Mass v. Greg Cohen Promotions

This case was filed in January 2018 in New York state court (but was removed to the Southern District of New York in March 2018) by Clifford Mass alleging that Greg Cohen and his promotional company Greg Cohen Promotions LLC (GCP) breached both a salaried employment agreement and an investment agreement that entitled Mass to a percentage of GCP's profits.

This was a lengthy case that was most infamous for a deposition Cohen gave where he testified about paying money to a "consulting service" (Sports Consulting Services) that lobbied sanctioning bodies for ratings. Florida corporation documents revealed that this "consulting service" listed Gilberto Mendoza's son Alfredo and WBA social media manager Zailuby Cuba as officers.

On May 13, 2024, the case settled and a judgment was entered for Mass in the amount of $400,000.

Entry of Judgment:

Epic Sports v. Triller

In April 2024, this case was filed in the Southern District Court of Florida by the Pulev brothers' promoters, Epic Sports & Entertainment Inc. against two Triller entities for breaching a settlement agreement by not paying $1 million by July 31, 2022, following boxing matches in Los Angeles between Kubrat Pulev and Andrey Fedosov, and Tervel Pulev and Sergey Kovalev. Further, Epic Sports also alleged that Triller failed to schedule matches for the Pulev brothers by a February 2023 deadline specified in the settlement agreement.

After the Triller entities filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, Epic Sports filed an amended complaint on June 14, that along with the previous counts of breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, added counts for fraud and negligent misrepresentation in the formation and performance of the settlement agreement.

Triller has not filed a response as yet.

Amended Complaint

Jake Donovan documents Ryan Garcia’s latest fall from grace.
Kevin Iole chronicles Manny Pacquiao’s win in a court case where he initially lost a jury verdict in the amount of $5.1M.
Giovanni Cabrera thoughtfully speaking about the need for fighters to organize and form a fighters association like athletes have in other sports.
Eric Raskin on the race for fighter of the year at the mid-point.
Chris Algieri with some interesting observations on Bam Rodriguez and his future.
Algieri’s thoughts on the IBF stripping Usyk and allowing two men Usyk beat to fight for their title.
Arum and Stevenson’s contrasting takes on Stevenson’s contract situation with Top Rank. Plus a likely promoter by promoter analysis of where Stevenson might land.
Elliot Worsell’s take on Stevenson’s need to impress.
Interesting snippets from Dan Rafael’s interview with Shakur Stevenson and his thoughts on his future with Top Rank.
Tom Gray’s prognostication on what the P4P list will look like in 5 years.
Contrasting the reported PPV buys by Dan Rafael on Tank vs. Frank and Steve Kim’s on Haney vs. Garcia - both under 400K.
Canelo now looking at Chris Eubank Jr. as a potential fall opponent.
Interesting cataloging of Tank Davis PPV numbers by Dan Rafael.
Update on Cliff Rold’s own unique rating of fighters P4P.
Kazuto Ioka giving some interesting perspective on how he viewed the Bam-Estrada fight and how he wants Bam now.
Matt Christie on how the WBC is open to ranking champs from other organizations. (See their female flyweight ratings where IBF champ Gabriela Fundora is rated no. 1).

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