WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia has filed a lawsuit against his promoter, Top Rank, claiming that his contract is illegal and that it expired on Feb. 27, according to various reports.
The story was initially reported by the website BadCulture.net.
The suit asserts that Top Rank has attempted to "exploit, own and permanently control" Garcia's boxing career, pointing to "Top Rank's consistent violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, a federal statute enacted for the express purpose of protecting professional boxers like Garcia from the exploitive practice of boxing promoters like Top Rank."
According to reports, court documents address Top Rank's pushing Garcia into signing a contract granting the company "the ability to extend the agreement indefinitely, essentially rendering the contracting fighter an indentured servant of Top Rank."
Garcia "has no further obligation to Top Rank under the 2009 promotional rights agreement that he signed. It's very clear for a number of reasons, but that's our position," the boxer's attorney, Bryan Freedman, told ESPN.com. "There are a number of reasons why it's invalid. Even if it hadn't expired under its own terms, Top Rank acted not only as a promoter but also as a manager under the definition of manager in California and that is against the law. This is an absolute fairness issue."
Garcia "will seek a declaration from the court that he has no further obligations to Top Rank under the promotional rights agreement and, therefore, is free to schedule future fights without any interference from Top Rank and he is entitled to actual damages as a result of Top Rank's violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act," according to the lawsuit
Neither Garcia, nor his manager, Cameron Dunkin, could be reached for an immediate comment, and both Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and his stepson, Top Rank President Todd duBoef, are out of the country.
"Top Rank should be smart about this whole thing. They should read their own contract and see it goes beyond the face of what it can be and they should say, "Hey, you know, Mikey, we're sorry. Let's sit down and see if we can negotiate a new contract," Freedman told Fighthype.com in a one-on-one interview.
"I mean, that's what they should do. Because, look, at the end of the day, the contract's only going to last for so long. Even if they have an interpretation of what it is, it's still going to end, and why would they lock themselves out of the marketplace to be in a discussion with maybe one of the most attractive fighters in the next five years."