Austin Trout appeal brief argues for Ali Act to remain in court, not moved to arbitration

June 21, 2019

The Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin/WOB litigation is not the only boxing appeal going on.  The Austin Trout-WCB appeal is occurring in the First Circuit.  Recently, Trout’s lawyers filed its Reply Brief to the WBO’s Answering Brief.

Austin Trout filed a lawsuit against the sanctioning organization he was contracted with citing his fall in the rankings without reason causing him to miss out on the possibility of a title shot.

The federal court in Puerto Rico sided with the WBO in a motion to compel arbitration.  One of the allegations was that the Ali Act could not be subject to arbitration.  However, the federal court determined that due to an arbitration clause in the contract, that any claims arising under the contract were subject to arbitration. Trout appealed.

In the Opening Brief of its appeal, Trout argues that sanctioning bodies could circumvent the court of law by seeking refuge in an arbitration which would be subject to a panel designated by the WBO.

There was no surprise when the WBO’s brief supported the federal court ruling and arguing that the Ali Act was in fact subject to arbitration.  It cites case law which supports the argument that statutory claims (like those in the Ali Act) may be the subject of an arbitration agreement despite the fact that the statutory language contemplates court action.  The overarching policy cited by the WBO is that there is the federal policy favoring arbitration.  Moreover, they contend that if the burden is on the party resisting arbitration to show that the statute in question “overrides the mandate to arbitrate.”

WBO Opposition Brief by on Scribd

In its rebuttal, Trout argues the legislative text behind the reasoning of the statue and trumps the policy of arbitration.  Essentially, the reason why the law was made.  Through this, Trout makes the argument that “the legislative intent is inapposite to a mandatory arbitration clause in which the entity against which claims of illegal, fraudulent and potentially criminal acts are attributed, will designate the individuals to decide upon such allegations.”

Austin Trout Reply Brief by on Scribd

The argument contends that the purpose of the law was to regulate the power of promoters and sanctioning bodies.  Thus, an arbitration agreement which would have the drafter choose its own arbiter (as it does here) would fly in the face of the Ali Act’s purpose.  As a result, Trout argues that the Ali Act cannot go to arbitration.

Payout Perspective:

Trout makes a sound argument in its reply brief in citing the legislative intent of the Ali Act was to protect fighters and regulate those that may take advantage of them.  Based on this, it cites that the contract signed by Trout allowing for arbitration of disputes should be overridden due to the fact it is contra to the Ali Act’s intent.  However, the WBO cites the policy to arbitrate rather than litigate as the superseding factor to proceed to arbitration.  The appellate court will have to determine the rationale for each.  Although it does not seem monumental, this decision could shape the future of the Ali Act considering that contracts may include arbitration clauses sending these claims to arbitration instead of courts.

Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.