By Rick Reeno
WBO super featherweight champion Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28KOs) spoke to BoxingScene.com to explain his pending legal case against longtime promoter Top Rank. Earlier this month, Garcia filed a lawsuit in the Riverside Superior Court of California, alleging violations of the Muhammad Ali Act and seeking to break free from his promotional contract. A case management conference hearing is scheduled for October 6.
The lawsuit alleges that Garcia’s contract “improperly provides Top Rank the ability to extend the agreement indefinitely, essentially rendering the contracting fighter an indentured servant of Top Rank.” The filing claims that the contract violates California law. It also claims that the promoter has also violated the United States’ Muhammad Ali Act for multiple reasons, including “by failing to make required disclosures to Garcia concerning, among other things, the amount of money it would make from each of Garcia’s bouts.”
According to Garcia, the contract with Top Rank is already expired - with two pending clauses remaining. One clause provides Top Rank with the ability, until the end of May, to match any competitor's offer. The other clause provides Top Rank with the promotional rights to Garcia's first five defenses [if he is holding a title at the time his promotional contract expires]. Garcia does hold a title and there are four defenses remaining to satisfy that clause. However, Garcia is confident that particular clause would become invalid if he vacates his title. At the moment he doesn't plan to vacate. The first order of business is to see what he's able to work out with Top Rank.
"It's not a lawsuit against them for money or anything like that. We believe my contract is up on it's own terms, except for two extensions that a very loosely enforced. I asked to renegotiate before we do anything else. We tried to renegotiate. We didn't get offered anything, so I started the legal proceedings to get my release. Within that [lawsuit], there are other claims that we decided to file to make our case stronger and show that we mean serious business," Garcia told BoxingScene.com.
"We're still talking to [Top Rank]. We were talking to them last Thursday and Friday, so we can still try to work together. If we can get an agreement where we're both happy, then of course I'd keep working with Top Rank. We're hoping to get a fair agreement, a fair contract, a fair amount of fights per year and we're happy."
Garcia had a bad taste in his mouth after the negotiations for a fight with Yuriorkis Gamboa fell apart. The Cuban was going to make significantly more money, says Garcia.
"The thing that really kept the fight from actually getting made was the money, the purse. From what I understood - my team, my manager and my promoter had told us the split was set aside where Gamboa was getting 1.5 million and I was getting one million. We didn't think that was a fair split. My team, my manager, my brother - we didn't think that was a fair purse for us. If he's getting 1.5 then I should be getting at least that much or more. I think I'm worth more than Gamboa at this point," Garcia said.
"The original offer for me was $850,000 dollars. But then we fought and fought and got one million, and we found out he's getting one and a half [million]. I really don't agree with that. I really don't think that's a fair decision to make so we decided not to take the fight for that reason. We said if they could bring him down to a million, then we got a fight....make it 50-50."
"They said that they could do a little more [money for me] but I would have to renegotiate for another contract, but it was still a contract that we weren't happy with. So we told them if it's worth it, even if we take a little less for this fight, then we can make it up with the next fight. But they can't guarantee that, because HBO may not put up the money. [HBO] may not feel the fight is worth that or the opponent is not worth that, and in that case they can't guarantee that I can make up the money. In the end it wasn't even Top Rank, Gamboa and his team were refusing to come down so Bob said the fight was off."
Garcia is not alone. Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is also refusing to sign a contract extension with Top Rank over the monetary terms being offered. If Chavez and Top Rank are unable to reach a deal on the extension, a potential July fight with Gennady Golovkin will fall apart.
"A very similar situation. I don't know the details of his situation but I can imagine that it's a very similar thing. There is an offer to take this fight but we have to keep you for this [amount of time]. If a fighter is not happy with that, he's not going to take it. Chavez wants a fair shake just like every other fighter does. If the promoter offers you something but doesn't really give you what you want, you are not really excited about it. In the end it's us who get in the ring," Garcia said.