By Luis Batista Salas, ESQ.
We are asked by Golden Boy Promotions to resolve a dispute which has arisen between the parties— that is to say Golden Boy and Top Rank— with respect to the boxing match between Gary Russell, Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko on June 21, 2014 for the vacant WBO Featherweight Championship of the World. Specifically, we must determine what the appropriate purse split should be for this fight, pursuant to Section 13 of the WBO Regulations for World Championship Contests.
Golden Boy, who won the opportunity to promote the above referenced bout based on a winning bid of $1,052,500 submitted during the April 18, 2014 purse bid, contends that the purse should be divided in equal parts between Russell, Jr. and Lomachenko. We disagree.
The pertinent portions of Section 13, which govern the division of purse for WBO championships held pursuant to a purse bid, state that:
(2) VACANT CHAMPIONSHIPS or ELIMINATORY FIGHTS
(A) In fights for a vacant title or eliminatory fights (except in the case where one of the contestants is a Super Champion in which case the Super Champions provision for purse bid division shall apply) the distribution shall be as follows:
(B) If the fight is held in the country of origin, residence or nationality of one of the contenders, the resident contestant shall receive 40% and his opponent shall receive 60% off the total purse offered.
(C) If the fight is held in a neutral place or if the contenders are from the same country of origin, residence or nationality, in such a way that neither have an advantage over the other, the purse shall be divided in equal parts between the contenders. USA Residents shall be considered of the same country of residence, regardless of which State they reside in for Purse Bid purposes.
In support of its position that the appropriate purse split for this bout should be 50% for each boxer, Golden Boy submitted a BoxRec profile for Mr. Lomachenko, which identifies him as a resident of Marina Del Rey, California. Furthermore, Golden Boy brought to the attention of this WBO World Championship Committee that Mr. Lomachenko also listed the Marina Del Rey, California address as his residence in the documents that he filed in connection with his October 12, 2013 bout in Las Vegas, Nevada and his March 14, 2014 bout in San Antonio, Texas.
Top Rank, on the other hand, argues that Mr. Lomachenko lives in Bilhorod- Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine and that under the applicable Section 13(a)(2)(B), Mr. Lomachenko is entitled to 60% of the purse since the fight is not taking place in his country of origin, nationality, or residence, but that of Mr. Russell, Jr’s.
Also as part of the process of reviewing this petition, we reached out to Mr. Egis Klimas, Mr. Lomachenko’s manager, who provided us with a copy of his fighter’s Ukrainian Passport, Ukrainian Driver’s License and, more importantly, a copy of his P-1 (Internationally Recognized Athlete) Visa. This P-1 classification applies to athletes that are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific competition, at an internationally recognized level of performance. Mr. Lomachenko has not applied for “green card” or permanent resident status in the United States.
In addition to this, Klimas explained that the Marina Del Rey property (13603 Marina Ponte Drive #D512), alluded to by Golden Boy as a sign of Lomachenko’s residency, is used solely as an address for notifications, such medical bills, receiving licensing and other relevant documentation. In fact, Klimas stated that not once has Lomachenko spent a night in this unit and that during his two previous training camps, they used various short-term rental properties in different locations. In support of this, we received copies of three lease agreements (two of the properties are in Marina Del Rey, CA, one is in Big Bear Lake, CA, and the other in Playa del Rey, CA)— all of which identify Mr. Klimas, and not Lomachenko as the lessee and primary temporary occupant.
In conclusion, having trained in the United States in advance of his two previous boxing contests (which also took place in the United States) does not make Mr. Lomachenko a resident of the United States. Moreover, we take the documentation provided on behalf of Mr. Lomachenko as evidence affirming his status as a citizen and permanent resident of Ukraine, rendering him a contender of foreign “origin, residence or nationality” as per the above cited Section 13 of the WBO Regulations for World Championship Contests.
NOW, THEREFORE, according to our Regulations, this WBO World Championship Committee denies Golden Boy’s petition that the purse be divided in equal parts between Russell, Jr. and Lomachenko and further determines that Mr. Lomachenko is entitled to 60% of the purse amount since this championship contest is not taking place in his country of origin, nationality or residence, but that of his opponent.
Parties be further advised that under Section 34 of the WBO Regulations for World Championship Contests any WBO Participant, including, but not limited to a boxer, manager, or promoter who is or could be affected by a determination of the World Championship Committee may appeal to the Complaint and Grievance Committee pursuant Rule 34 within (10) ten days of this decision as its sole and exclusive remedy.