Welterweight Robert Guerrero is seeking separation from Golden Boy Promotions through arbitration with the California State Athletic Commission, even as the company's CEO, Richard Schaefer, insists that his contract remains valid and that the CSAC has no jurisdiction to make a ruling because the contract "was not signed under California law" but "under New York law."
Guerrero's desire to break from Golden Boy was first reported by ESPN.com.
Schaefer said that although no arbitration date has been set, it is his belief that the California commission cannot rule on a New York promotional contract, adding "Guerrero agreed to have his contract under New York law and he was legally represented when he signed it."
"I believe strongly that he continues to be under contract with Golden Boy, and I will continue to work hard and to give Robert the best possible fights and to try to make him and his family the most money. That's all that I can really say. He's basically saying that it's not a valid contract, but I'm saying that the contract is valid, so now, somebody will have to decide," Schaefer told RingTV.com.
"But that's somebody which I do not believe will be the California Commission, because it's not a California contract. So somebody will have to make a determination. We'll go through the process and then we will see who is right. I am convinced that we have a valid contract, and that's why there is a process and he decided that he wants to go through the process, and we will see."
Neither Guerrero, manager and trainer Bob Santos, nor his co-manager Luis De Cubas Jr. returned phone calls from RingTV.com. However, Guerrero's attorney, Bruce Zabarauskas, did comment. Zabarauskas said that an extended agreement that Guerrero signed with Golden Boy last March, prior to his fight with Floyd Mayweather in May, is "unenforceable" under California law "for three reasons:"
"No. 1, because under California commission rules, a promotional agreement is not valid unless the fighter and the promoter both show up before the commission, and it's approved by in person by the commission. That never happened. Second, the California commission rules require that all promotional agreements be on California commission forms, specifically with the California commission to have a California form addendum to the promotional agreement. That was not part of the agreement.
"The third is that California law does not allow an extension beyond the five years of a promotional agreement. That March promotional agreement with Golden Boy was signed while Robert's five-year agreement with Golden Boy was still in effect, so it's an illegal extension under California commission rules. So this is a contract that is not valid under California law."
Zabarauskas also said that Guerrero's contract with Golden Boy was in violation of the Muhammad Ali Act.
"Guerrero was already the mandatory challenger for the WBC title when he fought Floyd Mayweather for the title. Under the federal Muhammad Ali Act, a promoter can not require a fighter to give promotional rights in order to obtain a mandatory title fight."
"In other words, Golden Boy said to us, 'in order to get the Mayweather fight, you have to give us a three-year extension with respect to exclusive promotional rights, and that violates the federal Muhammad Ali Act, because Robert was the mandatory challenger."
Zabarauskas also discounts Golden Boy's position that the California commission cannot rule on the matter because New York law applies.
"That's not enforceable in California," he said. "California law provides that a choice of law provision in a contract is only enforceable if there is a substantial relationship between a contract and the state where you're trying to apply.
"Robert is a California-based fighter, he has never fought in the state of New York, and he doesn't have a New York license. The contract was negotiated in California, and the contract was signed in Nevada, and it wasn't signed in New York. So there is no nexus between the contract and the state of New York, so New York law shouldn't apply."
Legal disputes and jurisdiction aside, Schaefer maintains that his company treated Guerrero fairly.
"This is disappointing," he said. "I don't know what the motivation is behind it. We gave him all of the fights that he wanted, and we made him a lot of money. So, I'm very proud of what we have accomplished for Robert Guerrero.
"The truth has a way of coming out, and who knows if there are not other people, meaning other promoters, behind it, trying to convince him to break his contract and promising him certain fights. But, you know, that will all come out."
When last in the ring in May of last year, Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 knockouts) earned a career-high $3 million for his unanimous decision loss to RING welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., ending his seven-and-a-half-year undefeated streak. Guerrero had won 15 consecutive fights, having previously lost by a split decision to Gamaliel Diaz in December 2005 only to win their rematch with a sixth-round knockout the following June.
A former featherweight and junior lightweight titleholder, Guerrero entered the bout with Mayweather following consecutive unanimous decision victories over Selcuk Aydin in his 147-pound debut in July of 2012 and former titleholder Andre Berto in November of 2012.
"I know that I can compete with the best fighters in the world. I learned a lot in this fight in the fact that I gained a lot of experience on what it will take to fight a guy who never stops moving around the ring," said Guerrero, during an interview with RingTV.com in July of last year.
"The whole experience is going to make me a better fighter moving forward, because I know what it’s like to fight at the highest level in sports. I’ll be ready the next time around, and moving forward, I’m ready to fight the best. I’m ready to fight the best possible opponents out there. I know my managers are starting to put some things together, and when they let me know what’s up, I’ll be ready."
“It’s an exciting fight for me, because Guerrero, he’s been in the mix within the welterweight division, which is pretty much where I want to be," Thurman said at the time.
"To face someone who has walked the path and walked down the alley where you want to go, and who has been where you want to be, I just think that it’s a great test and a great opportunity to see what Keith Thurman’s all about.”
In the end, Schaefer insists that Golden Boy has upheld its obligations to Guerrero.
"The issue is not that we haven't offered him fights," said Schaefer. "That's not what he is saying. He's saying that the contract is not valid. I am saying that it is, end of story."