By Rick Reeno
Attorney Bruce Zabarauskas of California-based firm Thompson & Knight LLP, reached out to BoxingScene.com to explain the reasoning behind Robert Guerrero's decision to break his promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions.
Guerrero's lawyer has started the process to break the contract through an arbitration with the California State Athletic Commission.
The former champion has been inactive since the May 2013 twelve round decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. - where Guerrero received a career high $3 million dollar payday. Prior to that, Guerrero headlined televised events against Andre Berto and Seluck Aydin.
Zabarauskas disputes some of Schaefer's earlier comments, regarding the California commission having no jurisdiction over that contract - because the contract was written under New York law.
Moreover, Schaefer says the attorney who filed the papers and claims the promotional contract is illegal, is the same lawyer who negotiated Guerrero's new promotional contract prior to the Mayweather fight.
"The guy who filed the papers, he's the same one who negotiated the deal on the contract and he is listed on the contract as the legal representative. The contract is under New York law. So they go to the California commission to ask them to void a New York contract. The California commission has no jurisdiction over a New York contract," Schaefer said.
"They were happy with everything [on the new contract]. Their attorney negotiated everything. The managers, Luis and Santos negotiated it. [Their attorney] discussed the New York law provisions, he even explained it in the contract and the specific language in there and everything . Everything was okay and now suddenly it is illegal. I am speechless. I do not understand it."
According to Zabarauskas, that is not the case, and there were numerous violations with respect to the agreement.
"He is 100% wrong on that. The choice of law provision is not enforceable. They violated California law on numerous grounds here. The arbitration filed with the commission is that Golden Boy violated three rules of the California State Athletic Commission. It is our position that California law applies. The New York choice of law provision is illegal and unenforceable. California commission rules require that a contract is not enforceable unless the parties appear in person and the commission approves the agreement - they didn't do that. California commission rules require, specially there is a California form addendum to promotional contracts which not part of the agreement. The third thing is, the California commission rules prohibit the extension of promotional agreements beyond five years. When it was signed, Robert's original agreement was still in effect. So the extension violates the commission rules," Zabarauskas told BoxingScene.com.
"Additionally, this agreement was required to be signed, by Golden Boy, in order for Robert to fight Floyd Mayweather - which violates the federal Muhammad Ali Act. When Robert fought Floyd Mayweather, Robert was the WBC mandatory challenger. Under the federal Muhammad Ali Act, a promoter cannot require a fighter to provide promotional rights in exchange for the right to fight a mandatory title fight. So they basically said to Robert, if you want the Mayweather fight, you have to sign this illegal extension. That's where we have this agreement."
"They take the position that New York law applies. New York law has nothing to do with this case. We have a California fighter, a California based promoter and you have a regulatory state system in the state of California which is designed to protect California fighters. Golden Boy's position is - we can evade California law whenever we feel like it, and take away the protections, by including once sentence - 'New York law applies.' The California law is, not all choice of law provisions are enforceable. The rule in California is, in order for a provision to be enforceable, there has to be a substantial relationship between the contract and the state of law that you're choosing. The problem they have is, Robert is not licensed in New York. He's based in California. The contract was negotiated in California. Robert has a California license. Robert has never fought in the state of New York and it wasn't signed in New York."
Taking away the contract issues, Golden Boy still holds the bulk of the welterweight talent, and many outside observers are still shocked that Guerrero would look to walk away when Golden Boy has at least a dozen potential fights at the weight.
But, Zabarauskas indicates that only fight, with Keith Thurman, was offered from that vast pool of talent. And, Zabarauskas says the fight was turned down because the offer, allegedly, did not comply with terms of Guerrero's contract.
"Richard has gone around saying they offered us multiple fights. That's not true. They made one offer to us, one fight, which for multiple reasons did not comply with the agreement. When we tried to engage them with respect to other fights, they wanted nothing to do with us. They made no offers, had no discussions regarding any other fighters," Zabarauskas said.