Will Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s next fight be in the ring or the court room?
Although former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is digging in for a fight, it is unclear whether it will be in the court room or in a boxing ring.
Chavez Jr.’s recent signing with with advisor Al Haymon all but signals his desire to separate from career-long promoter Top Rank Promotions, given that CEO Bob Arum is not usually known to do business with Haymon.
But Top Rank filed suit against Chavez U.S. District Court in Nevada in August alleging that the boxer owes the company one more fight and that he has until April 6, 2016 to grant it, according to Yahoo!Sports.
“Top Rank has exclusive rights to another Chavez fight,” said Top Rank attorney Dan Petrocelli of the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm. “The matter is pending in court and anyone, including Mr. Haymon, who disregards this runs the risk of serious liability for interfering with Top Rank’s rights.”
But Chavez’s attorney, Howard Weitzman, contends that the Top Rank contract expired “at the end of September, 2014.”
“The issue is really narrow with respect to Top Rank and Julio and that issue is that we believe that the contract has expired and Bob Arum believes that he has one fight left on the contract,” said Weitzman of the Santa Monica-based Kinsella Weitzman law firm.
“If we can’t settle it and it doesn’t appear that we’re heading that way, because they’ve filed a lawsuit, then some judge or jury will make that decision. Has the contract expired or has it not?”
Arum said he would be willing to work with Haymon “if the fight could be done the way that we’ve done all of” Chavez’s fights, adding, “Whoever he wants to advise him, that’s beyond our control and we couldn’t care less.”
“We have done all of his fights for all of his career,” said Arum, “and we would promote those fights in the same manner.”
Would Haymon’s role as advisor to Chavez, in itself, violate a Top Rank promotion of his next fight?
“I can’t answer that without knowing what it is that he has allegedly signed and what the terms are and whether the agreement in any way violates Top Rank’s rights. So Mr. Haymon, if it’s true that he signed Chavez, then we’re not aware of any official confirmation other than what has been reported in the press,” said Petrocelli.
“But it would raise some very serious issues as I said because Top Rank has exclusive rights to at least one more fight. What would Al Haymon’s role be? Why does he have anything to do with Chavez? Fighters can have all kinds of advisors but the way that it’s being presented in the media is that since he has signed with Al Haymon, he’s not available to Top Rank anymore. So that’s a violation of Top Rank’s rights.”
In the meantime, said Chavez, “My lawyer, Howard Weitzman, my manager Al Haymon and Billy Keane…they have begun the process of setting up my next fight, which will occur in early 2015.”
Weitzman contends that the ongoing litigation should not keep Chavez out of action and that Chavez can fight immediately.
“We believe that we’re entitled to go out and to fight, regardless, and that the case will take care of itself. I believe that he can book a fight and participate in the fight…there is a lawsuit that’s been filed that is asking a judge to find that Top Rank has one more fight. We’ve answered in counter claim that the contract has expired,” said Weitzman.
“But at the end of the day, this is about money. I mean, Bob Arum doesn’t own Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., so it’s really about the money…so because it’s only about the money, I believe that Julio Cesar Chavez is entitled to fight, and then, like most litigations, we’ll have a dispute that will be decided with respect to if anybody gets money and, if so, then, how much?”
Is there a chance Arum could be bought out so Chavez can fight without him?
“I don’t think that Bob Arum getting bought out is going to be the criteria as to whether or not Julio can fight. But there is always a chance that matters get resolved before they go to court,” said Weitzman.
“If this gets resolved, then it obviously would involve Bob Arum getting bought out but it doesn’t seem like Bob wants to get bought out. He would rather say that he owns Julio and try to force him to fight for Top Rank.”