By Rick Reeno
If the latest allegations are true, Doug Loughrey, the boxing program director for ESPN, could possibly land the network in the crossfire of a legal battle over junior middleweight prospect Harry Joe Yorgey (21-0-1, 9KOs).
Last week, I wrote about the verbal confrontation between Teddy Atlas, ringside analyst for ESPN's Friday Night Fight Series, and Loughrey, which took place at ESPN‘s televised fight card in Florida on January 11.
As the story goes, Atlas confronted Loughrey over allegedly showing favoritism to certain promoters and matchmakers, who were abusing their ESPN connections by taking fighters from other promoters with promises of potential ESPN dates. The verbal exchange was aggressive and heard by many who were present at the event.
This past Friday, Atlas was suspended by ESPN for a period of one-week. Several sources have indicated to BoxingScene.com that an internal inquiry is taking place to find out exactly what transpired between Loughrey and Atlas, and the basic facts of the subject matter involved in the argument.
Where does Harry Joe Yorgey fit into this? Good question.
A few days ago, I touched on a possible legal battle over the young fighter. At the present, Yorgey is scheduled to appear on the March 7 edition of ESPN's Friday Night Fights at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut.
According to boxing manager Jimmy Deoria, Yorgey‘s fight is moving forward without his permission, or the permission of Don Elbaum, the fighter‘s advisor. Should the fight take place, Deoria has promised a legal explosion in the form a lawsuit against promoter Art Pelullo of Banner Promotions, ESPN and other possible defendants. The potential lawsuit will allege tortious interference of his managerial contract, and tortious interference with Elbaum‘s contract.
"This is a violation of my contract for Yorgey to fight on the card without my approval. I advised Pelullo, the casino and ESPN, the fight is a violation of my contract with Yorgey," Deoria said. "They are allowing this fight to happen when the manager has not signed off on the fight. I was told, my fighter went to talk with Mr. Pelullo and he advised Yorgey and his father that Don Elbaum and I can't get him on ESPN and he could.”
Where does Loughrey fit into this? Another good question.
BoxingScene has obtained a copy of a legal letter dated January 10, sent by attorney David Berlin, representing Deoria and Elbaum, to Eric Kemmler, associate general counsel for ESPN.
In the letter, Berlin discusses a interesting conversation which took place between him and Loughrey on January 9. According to Berlin, he contacted Loughrey to advise him of the valid contracts that exist between his clients and Yorgey. Rather than direct him to the ESPN legal counsel, or direct him to sort out the situation with Pelullo himself, Loughrey took it upon himself to engage Berlin by questioning the validity of Elbaum’s contract. The end result was a heated conversation with Loughrey hanging up the phone on Berlin.
If what Berlin wrote is true, Loughrey, by questioning the validity of the contract and refusing to pull Yorgey from the show, has directly involved the network in what may become a possible lawsuit between Berlin’s clients and Pelullo. There are questions floating around as to why Loughrey even had a copy of the contract between Yorgey and Elbaum, but I’m not able to answer that at the present.
I wasn’t on the phone for the conversation and I’m only noting what Berlin, who’s handled other lawsuits in the boxing industry, wrote in his legal letter dated January 10.
Again, if the allegations are true, they bring up more questions than answers. When does a boxing program director become a lawyer? Why exactly would a boxing program director even take the position of refusing to pull a fighter from a show by questioning the validity of a contract? Even if the contract is invalid, is it Loughrey’s place to make that kind of legal determination?
Before anyone questions my legal expertise, I’ve worked in the legal field for close to a decade. The protocol in every large company is to never discuss any legal issues with an incoming attorney. An employee is to immediately direct the attorney to the in-house counsel or the counsel of record.
I don’t think HBO’s Kerry Davis would ever engage an attorney, on the phone, over the validity of his client’s contract with a fighter. Especially when the attorney is representing clients who might initiate a possible lawsuit. He would immediately direct that attorney to the HBO legal department in order to avoid any chance of making a statement that could possibly expose the network to damages.
Bobby Dobgenda Strikes With His Agenda
Yesterday I received several emails and phone calls from various people in the boxing industry, informed me of some statements made against me, and Teddy Atlas, on a public boxing forum. The person in question, Bobby Dobbs, a matchmaker for Tony Holden Promotions, has taken an issue with some of the material I’ve written.
In an article published on January 18, I wrote the following with respect to the verbal confrontation between Loughrey and Atlas.
Loughrey allegedly told more than one person that Atlas tried to physically confront him during the argument. Loud words were exchanged, but the situation never became physical.
And then on January 26, I published the following with respect to the suspension of Atlas.
While the reason for the suspension has not been confirmed, the fairytale stories of Atlas attempting to physically confront Loughrey, was certainly a catalyst in the decision.
Dobbs said the following on a public boxing forum which is occupied by industry related managers, matchmakers and fighters. It didn’t take long for the word to reach me and other parties involved.
Boxingscene should not be taken seriously as a source for news. Especially when you look at the biased way that story was written. Teddy has previously assaulted an ESPN employee and was put on probation, there was without question a confrontation (no fairy tale) in Miami. I dont want to get too much into it because I know all of these guys. But, "Rick Reeno" is about as much a journalist as Zelnoff is a prize fighter. (screenshot found here)
Numerous people, some industry related, took him to task. One person wrote.
You're stating a biased opinion too though Bobby Dobbs. Obviously if you plan on doing business with ESPN, it wouldn't be smart to take the other side on this one. The truth of the matter is, Doug Loughry has been called out on a very serious issue. He's used the power of his position at ESPN FNF to deal unfairly, and do so with a bully mentality. Atlas has been suspended for 1 week, but he also put the spotlight on the issue...which was what he probably intended to do. There will be a shakeup at ESPN, and it has already begun.
And Dobbs responded with the following, and actually validated the statement of the individual above as to the reasoning of why he’s taking a certain side in the situation.
But, I am not pretending to be a journalist either. I know a little more about what went on, and I can tell you that neither party is entirely innocent. Teddy has physically assaulted someone there before. (look at screenshot 2)
Truthfully, if Doug gave all his dates to his favorite promoter, all the brass at ESPN would care about ultimately are the ratings. There is no law that says it has to be a fair democratic process. Showtime is the worst about that. One promoter gets nearly all the dates. Drives the rest of us nuts. (look at screenshot 3)
While he said I'm pretending to be a journalist, at least he respected me enough to not accuse me of pretending to be a mediocre matchmaker from Oklahoma.
In reality, Dobbs has no idea what's going on, and it clearly shows when he tried to compare this situation to Showtime’s relationship with one particular promoter, which are two totally different scenarios and one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. I can’t even repeat some of the allegations being made in this situation due to the serious nature of the claims, but I for one can say without question that one situation is completely different from the other.
Several people from within the industry could not believe this guy would be reckless enough to make these kind of statements in a public setting for the world to read.
He inadvertently placed Holden’s name in a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with him. All of the phone calls I received were from people asking “How is Holden involved in this. Why is Holden‘s guy attacking you and Teddy and defending Loughrey.” I was at a loss for words because Holden, to my knowledge, is not involved in any of this, but Dobbs, who should have known much better, has to be aware that most people in the industry immediately link him and Holden at the hip.
Honestly, Dobbs has been upset with BoxingScene.com since a negative opinion piece was written about Zahir Raheem by Jake Donovan. Dobbs voiced his displeasure to Jake personally, on a public boxing forum no less.
In situations like the one going on at ESPN, a person shouldn’t open their mouth, especially in a public setting, unless they know the actual situation and the allegations being made. If he actually knew, he would never open his mouth and he would never make such misinformed statements on a public forum.
I could keep going, but I’ve already administered enough "pwning," as the readership on this site would call it.