Lem Satterfield

Rios-Gamboa’s off; Top Rank sues Gamboa

The attorney for THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight, Yuriorkis Gamboa, confirmed that the former Cuban Olympic gold medalist’s fight with the magazine’s No. 1-rated lightweight, Brandon Rios, scheduled for April 14 on HBO, has been canceled.

Gamboa’s attorney, Sekou Gary, confirmed what RingTV.com was initially informed of through an e-mail which read the “April 14 Top Rank show, Rios v Gamboa is dead on HBO,” and which cited an HBO internal email with a cancel notice.

In an initial report by RingTV.com, Gary said that the fighter would not face Rios unless he is “operating under terms that are satisfactory,” regarding his contract with co-promoters Top Rank Inc. and Ahmet Oner.

In addition, RingTV.com has learned that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has informed Yahoo!Sports that his company has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas for breach of contract against Gamboa.

Arum confirmed the filing to RingTV.com, but would not comment futher.

“This would have been a hell of a fight, but what can we do? We had a deal and he’s not living up to the deal,” Arum told Kevin Iole of Yahoo!Sports.

“We’ve sued him, but at this point, we have not made any claims against whoever may have induced him to breach his contract. We’ll see about that.”

The Tweet also announced that Rios will face Richard Abril (17-2-1, 8 KOs), the WBA’s interim titleholder, in place of Gamboa.

Click here for video of Rios-Abril press conference confrontation.

Top Rank has retained lawyer David Marroso, who is a senior attorney with the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm. Marroso’s partner, Daniel Petrocelli, gained a wrongful death conviction against O.J. Simpson in 1997.

“I think that it’s a great public relations move by Top Rank,” said Gary, who has been contacted by Marroso. 

“But I think that the evidence will show that the promotional contract between Gamboa and Top Rank has expired, and that there clearly was never any agreement to fight the Brandon Rios fight. The original promotional contract that Gamboa signed has expired, and then the contract that Top Rank is operating under with Gamboa is not valid.”

In a copy of the suit, obtained by RingTV.com, Top Rank claims that Gamboa’s move has cost the company $1 million.

Gamboa’s refusal to participate in the April 14, 2012 bout against Rios constitutes an anticipatory breach of the Rios Bout Agreement and of Gamboa’s obligations under the Co-promotion Agreement and Ratification,” read the suit.

“As a direct result of Gamboa’s anticipatory breach, Top Rank has suffered and will continue to suffer damages in an amount to be proven at trial, but not less than $1,000,000.”

Prior to learning of the lawsuit, Gary was at least still hopeful that the fight could eventually happen.

“We definitely want the fight to happen, but that will be a decision that it left to Top Rank, at the end of the day. We’re obviously not going to fight on April 14. But as far as a future fight, we want the fight, but that will be a decision that Top Rank will have to make at the appropriate time,” said Gary.

“We’re currently in talks in reference to his current status with Top Rank right now. There are disputes over his status and we’re trying to come to a resolution as far as our viewpoints on the situation.”

It is unclear as of now how the suit against Gamboa will affect the aforementioned talks. Gary could not be reached fo comment.

HBO’s Sports Vice President of Programmming, Kery Davis, told RingTV.com on Monday that he and network officials were concerned that the bout between Rios (29-0-1, 16 knockouts) and Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) was not going to happen after Gamboa failed to appear at two promotional press conferences last week that were attended by Rios, his camp members and the fighters’ mutual promoter, Top Rank Inc.

In an exclusive interview with RingTV.com, Gamboa cited contractual issues and an unsigned bout agreement among his reasons for not being present at the press conferences.

“I obviously saw the interview that Gamboa did with Ring Magazine,” said Davis, speaking on behalf of the network and HBO’s President of Sports, Ken Hershman.

“So from that standpoint, he certainly didn’t give anybody any confidence.”

Top Rank alleges that Gamboa breached his contract with Arena and Top Rank, who co-promote him, by not going through with the Rios fight.

“Since mid-2009, Top Rank has invested millions of  dollars to develop, advance, and promote Gamboa’s career. Under Top Rank’s financial  commitment and stewardship — just the right mix and selection of opponents, venues, broadcasters, and sponsors — Gamboa is on the verge of stardom,” read the suit.

“Now, having benefited from Top Rank’s considerable history, talents, connections, and success, Gamboa willfully breached multiple obligations to Top Rank and has clearly and unequivocally announced his intent to repudiate the contracts in their entirety.”

The suit lists 10 unidentified “John Does” as being responsible for trying to “poach” Gamboa and break his contract with Top Rank.

“Top Rank believes one or more rival boxing promotion companies and unknown individuals associated with them are at the root of Gamboa’s wrongful conduct. These ‘poachers’ see what everyone sees,” reads the suit.

“A gifted boxer platformed by Top Rank for superstardom — and they want to unfairly capitalize on what Top Rank orchestrated and built. Upon information and belief, the rival promoters and others promised Gamboa that if he breaches his contract with Top Rank, they will promote his fights.”

Below are more exerpts from the lawsuit.

1) “The true names and capacities, whether individual, agency, corporate, associate, or otherwise, of Defendant [John] DOES 1-10 are unknown to Plaintiff at this time. Plaintiff will ask leave of this Court to amend this Complaint to identify the true names and capacities of these Defendants when they become known to Plaintiff. Plaintiff believes each named DOE was responsible in some manner for the events and happenings stated and referred to herein.”

2) “Based on express promises and representations from Gamboa that he would fight undefeated boxer Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios on April 14, 2012, Top Rank advanced Gamboa tens of thousands of dollars and began the colossal undertaking that is boxing event promotion.”

3) “The parties engaged in extensive negotiations over the material terms of the championship bout agreement, including Gamboa’s request that Top Rank and Arena increase the purse for the bout to an amount four times his contractually-guaranteed minimum. Top Rank and Arena acceded to Gamboa’s request.”

4) “On or around February 16, 2012, Gamboa explicitly agreed to all material terms of a contract to fight Rios on April 14, 2012, including the date, opponent, travel arrangements, purses, and advances (“Rios Bout Agreement”).”

5) “After agreeing to fight Rios, Gamboa requested, received, and accepted in excess of $70,000 in advances from Top Rank and Arena in anticipation of the Rios bout.”

6) “On March 5, 2012 and again on March 12, 2012, Gamboa repudiated the Rios   Bout Agreement when he clearly and unequivocally declared that he does not intend to participate  in the April 14, 2012 bout against Rios.”

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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