Nonito Donaire’s contract dispute with promoter Bob Arum took a stunning turn today.
The Filipino-American star has signed an exclusive multi-year contract with Golden Boy Promotions, Arum’s arch rival, the Los Angeles-based promotional firm announced in a news release.
However, Arum won’t let Donaire go without a fight.
“Top Rank has a valid contract and we plan to enforce our rights,” Arum told RingTV.com after Golden Boy made its announcement.
Donaire’s side says that Arum has breached their three-year deal because the bantamweight titleholder hasn’t fought three times a year, as stipulated in the contract. Donaire has fought seven times in the past three years.
Arum told examiner.com that he is confident the contract is valid. He said the contract stipulates that it will be extended in the event of medical suspensions, periods during which the boxer is not allowed to fight. Arum said Donaire had several such suspensions.
"In fact, in the first year, Donaire was suspended twice physically so that twice tolled the contract," Arum told the Web site. "Adding in the time we lost it pushes the contract to 2013. …
"What this kid has to do now is live up to the contract.”
Arum said the contract is due to expire on June 26 but added that he has the option of exercising a one-year extension.
Donaire’s side has been unhappy with the manner in which Arum has promoted him.
Most important, the immensely talented fighter was unable to land a truly big fight under Arum until he faced Fernando Montiel last month.
And Donaire was unhappy that Arum offered him the minimum allowed on his contract — $250,000 – for a proposed fight with Anselmo Moreno after his sensational one-punch knockout of Montiel, against whom he made $350,000.
Arum subsequently raised that offer to $500,000 and said the fighter could reach seven figures, examiner.com reported.
"I think that, within six months, yes Donaire would absolutely get to the million dollar purse level," Arum told the Web site.
Too little too late, apparently.
Attorney John Bailey, who is representing Donaire, was obviously comfortable enough with his client’s legal position to OK a move to Golden Boy.
Bailey was contacted but declined to comment.
Donaire released a statement but made no reference to the dispute over his contract.
"I'm honored to be joining so many great fighters and champions on the Golden Boy Promotions team," he said. "I'm going to fight my heart out every time I'm in the ring and will give fans the fights they want to see."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Yahoo! Sports that his company jumped at the chance to sign Donaire after he received the go-ahead from the company's lawyers.
“Once he declared he was a free agent, we became interested,” Schaefer said. “Who wouldn’t be? I’m not an attorney, but we have a very good legal team and they agreed with Nonito’s legal team and with their position, which paved the way for us to make an offer.”
Meanwhile, Moreno, who reportedly turned down Arum’s offer of $350,000 to fight Donaire, also is being wooed by Golden Boy.
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, confirmed that he has offered the Panamanian bantamweight titleholder a multi-fight contract. He would not provide further details.
Golden Boy also has bantamweight Abner Mares under contract. Mares fights Joseph Agbeko for the championship of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament on April 23.
Donaire would presumably fight Moreno, possibly on May 28 on HBO. Mares could then fight the winner if he beats Agbeko, who is promoted by Don King.
Arum has under contract featherweight stars Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa, fighters Donaire has expressed an interest in facing.