Questions, Debt Remain from Shine Fights’ “Worlds Collide” event

August 31, 2010

As Shine Fights prepares for its first event since its cancelled show on May 15th, there remain unanswered questions, unfinished business and owed money from the failed “Worlds Collide” event in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Officially, Shine Fights’ May 15th event would have featured a boxer versus MMA fighter as Ricardo Mayorga was set to fight Din Thomas. However, boxing promoter Don King filed an injunction preventing Mayorga from fighting. Despite the injunction, the event could have gone forward. But, according to MMASpot.net, the North Carolina Boxing Authority shut down the event because it was discovered that Shine Fights did not have the requisite cash on hand for the fighter purses. The Authority indicated it was a state requirement for the purse money to be on hand prior to the event.

In its detailed account, MMASpot.net chronicles the problems leading up to the failed “Worlds Collide” event. Details reveal disorganization and chaos leading up to the May 15th event. Not only did Shine Fights misread the litigation threat posed by Don King, it financially overextended itself by failing to pay the venue and its fighters. According to Francis Gilpin of the Fayetteville Observer, the event venue in Fayetteville, the Crown Center, lost $42,000 in anticipation of the event.  The article states that efforts to recover the money from Shine Fights have been fruitless.

In addition to the Crown Center losses, fight officials, a physician and staff were not paid. On top of this debt, fighter salaries estimated to be as much as $75,000 had not been paid.

Many fighters on the card that night speculate that the promoters never had the money.

From MMASpot.net:

Jamal Patterson, who received forty percent of his contracted “show” purse, echoes many of the sentiments shared by other fighters that are still seeking payment, “I don’t think they ever had the money. If they did it would have been at the arena. [Shine Fights CEO] Devin [Price] made promises that he couldn’t keep.”

Shine Fights CEO Devin Price told MMA Junkie in July that all contracts had been fulfilled. Price cited contractual language stating that Shine Fights, “in its discretion,” could pay fighters 25%  of their stated compensation in the event of cancellation.

In an interview with MMA Weekly, Ron Foster, former matchmaker for Shine Fights spoke about the failed May 15th event.

Looking back on it all, Foster knows things could have been handled differently, but he doesn’t point fingers at anyone.

“Yes, I do believe that, but hindsight is always 20/20,” said Foster. “Of course you can look back at a situation after it has already happened and you can say ‘man if we would have done this different, if we would have just done that different,’ so hindsight is 20/20. It definitely could have been prevented.

“It wasn’t just negligence, it was the countless hours put into hyping up the fighters, it was everything. We put so much time and effort into everything; it wasn’t like we just overlooked small details. How does stuff happen that you just couldn’t prepare for?”

MMA Spot notes that some fighter contracts were never signed by Shine Fights officials:

One boxing commission official noted that in addition to the lack of payments to fighters, state commissions, and the venue, the fight contracts placed on file with the N.C.B.A. [North Carolina Boxing Authority] were not signed by the promotion. Whether intentional or unintentional the lack of a signature on the agreements leaves legal holes, in the event that a fighter did take legal action against the promotion.

Payout Perspective:

The detailed account of Shine Fights failed event in May reveals that Don King should not be the scapegoat for the canceling of the event. Based on the accounts, Shine Fights did not have the financial backing to pull off the event. Even though Ron Foster claims that they did not overlook small details, failing to abide by the governing authority’s rules providing fighter purse salaries was a major oversight. It is not clear why the Crown Center has not sued Shine Fights for breach of contract and/or to recover money owed to it. Similarly, I wonder why the fighters and/or their agents have not tried to sue Shine Fights. One can only speculate, based on the portions of the contract released to MMA Junkie,  that the terms in the fighter contract indicate that it was within Shine Fights’ discretion to pay fighters. It would be very interesting to see a fighter contract in its entirety to see the contract terms concerning cancellation.

A basic tenet of a written contract is that it must be signed by a party to the contract in order to make it valid (there are exceptions but are not relevant here). Shine Fights failure to execute its fighter contracts could show a glaring oversight or a willful omission. Certainly, the lack of signature could provide a loophole if a fighter does sue for breach of contract.

5 Responses to “Questions, Debt Remain from Shine Fights’ “Worlds Collide” event”

  1. Brad Wharton on September 1st, 2010 3:35 AM

    I’ve long said that when things like this go down, it’s often a case of fighters not covering themselves legally, rather than 100% of the blame being on the promoter. Now it’s clear in this case that Shine were majorly at fault, if indeed they did not have the money to pay fighters and were relying on the gate, but that doesn’t absolve the guys who signed those contracts from responsibility.

    The problem is that it’s so hard to make money, let alone a living, in MMA that as soon as a fighter sees dollar signs he’s more than willing to sign anything that’s stuck under his nose. A lot of ‘managers’ at the low end of the scale are the same.

    I guess the lesson would be that if you haven’t fully read what you are signing and don’t have a copy if your agreement signed by the other party, then don’t be surprised when you get stiffed.

  2. Machiel Van on September 1st, 2010 8:42 AM

    It’s possible that they are waiting to sue until after Shine’s next show so that they’ll actually have some capital to go after. Legal action at this point would probably result in further financial loss for the affected parties, since it seems like Shine has very little money. The statements to the press from Shine officials are ridiculous, and if I had been a fighter on the card I would AT LEAST be making a lot of noise about it, a la Nate Quarry vs The Fight Mafia.

  3. Machiel Van on September 1st, 2010 8:44 AM

    Hopefully justice will shine through lol

  4. jv on September 2nd, 2010 10:25 AM

    If the promoter filed the contract with the AC isn’t that an indication of what the intent was signature or no? It’s like a verbal contract. No signature but depending on the state possibly still legally binding. In this case though I would consider it even more binding than a verbal contract since there is a writing and it has been filed. Up to a judge to decide but watching the lawyer dance around why it was filed at all could be interesting.

    Then there is the question of why the AC would be letting the fights happen if they didn’t have signed contracts? I know the show didn’t go off but would it if the money had been there but the contracts weren’t signed?

    It takes a real special talent to make Don King look like the good guy in any thing.

  5. Ironbuddha on September 2nd, 2010 7:01 PM

    Even without a signed contract the can rely on equity if they sue. Most breach of contract actions involve a cause of action for equitable relief just in case there’s a problem with the contract.

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