Boxer Mikey Garcia sues Top Rank
April 29, 2014
Boxer Mikey Garcia has sued Top Rank Boxing for violations of the terms of its promotional agreement under the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and laws in the state of California. Garcia’s lawyers characterize the promotional agreement as making the boxer an “indentured servant.”
The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in Riverside County Superior Court in Riverside, California.
According to the lawsuit, “Garcia will demonstrate that Top Rank’s Promotional Rights Agreement violates numerous provisions of both California law and California’s strong public policy to protect California-based boxers from unscrupulous promoters and managers and from entering into improvident arrangement and is therefore unenforceable.” As for the violations of the Ali Act, Garcia’s attorneys state that Top Rank did not provide the required disclosures under the act which requires that Top Rank let Garcia know the amount of money it would make from each of Garcia’s bouts.
Garcia is a Super Featherweight out of Riverside, California. He is currently the World Boxing Organization’s champion. He signed a Promotional Rights Agreement before Top Rank represented him which Garcia’s lawyers contends it grants Top Rank the ability to extend the agreement indefinitely.
The promotional contract was entered on April 13, 2006 which gave Top Rank the exclusive right to promote Garcia’s services as a boxer. The terms of the Contract, which ran for 5 years, gave Top Rank the right to renew the terms of the agreement.
Garcia’s lawyers argue that Top Rank acted as Garcia’s manager which would be a violation of California law since it did not fill out the requisite forms to manage a boxer in California. This was similar to the problems faced in the Ronda Rousey-Fight Tribe arbitration.
The Complaint also alleges that Top Rank did not disclose the payments it received from Garcia’s fights which would be a violation of the Muhammad Ali Act. Specifically sec 6307e(b)(1)-(3).
Lawyers for Top Rank have downplayed the lawsuit calling it “baseless” and we will likely see them seek a dismissal of Garcia’s claims.
The promotional contract indicates that the jurisdiction is Nevada which may cause some procedural backlash by Top Rank. In addition, Garcia is suing based on the Ali Act, a federal law, which may cause another procedural issue related to removing the case to federal court.
It’s interesting to note that on HBO’s The Fight Game, the belief was that no one close to Garcia knew he was unhappy and that he was going to file the lawsuit. The inference is that there were no issues between Garcia and Top Rank.
I have not seen a fighter prevail in a case under the Muhammad Ali Act. While Garcia may have a valid claim, it’s likely that the lawsuit will precipitate a settlement with Top Rank or to sever ties with it.
MMA Payout will keep you posted.