By Keith Idec
A Nebraska judge has ruled in favor of Chris Middendorf in Top Rank’s appeal of his lawsuit against Bob Arum’s promotional company and Terence Crawford related to the agreement Middendorf made with Top Rank when it became Crawford’s promoter in 2011.
Judge John Gerrard – on behalf of the U.S. Federal Court, District of Nebraska – sided with Middendorf on Sunday and ordered Top Rank to pay Middendorf $520,296.87, plus appropriate prejudgment interest. That six-figure sum is equal to 8 percent of Crawford’s purses for seven subsequent championship matches following his ninth-round, technical-knockout victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa in June 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Top Rank, which appealed the initial court rulings that favored Middendorf, was contracted to pay Middendorf 8 percent of Crawford’s purses per terms of an agreement and release deal that allowed Top Rank to sign Crawford to a promotional contract in 2011. Middendorf owned a 35-to-40-percent stake in TKO Boxing Productions, Crawford’s former promoter, and was assigned several fighters, including Crawford, once TKO experienced financial duress.
That agreement enabled Middendorf to sell Crawford’s contract and several others to Top Rank, for decades one of most powerful promotional companies in boxing.
Gerrard’s ruling was first reported Wednesday by boxingesq.com, a blog authored by Kurt Emhoff, a longtime sports and entertainment attorney and boxing manager.
Since beating Gamboa, the 31-year-old Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, has won world titles in two more weight classes. He is commonly considered one of the top two boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
According to commission contracts, Crawford earned a total of $8,125,000 for seven fights from November 2014 through August 2017. Top Rank paid Middendorf $136,000 from Crawford’s listed purses and additional revenue he earned from gate receipts for those fights ($78,710.91).
Gerrard determined Top Rank owes Middendorf an additional $520,296.87 as per their agreement, in addition to the aforementioned interest.
Top Rank’s counsel argued that it shouldn’t have owed Middendorf any money from Crawford’s victories over Viktor Postol and Julius Indongo because those bouts were title unification fights, not title defenses.
Gerrard ruled against Top Rank in those instances as well.
Crawford defended his WBO junior welterweight title and won the WBC super lightweight title from Postol by winning a 12-round unanimous decision against the Ukrainian veteran in July 2016 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Crawford’s purse, according to his Nevada State Athletic Commission contract, was $1,300,000 for the Postol fight.
Crawford also defended the WBC and WBO 140-pound championships against Namibia’s Indongo, whom Crawford beat by third-round TKO to capture the IBF and WBA titles as well in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Nebraska Athletic Commission’s contract for that fight listed Crawford’s purse as $2,000,000.
On April 20, Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) will defend his WBO 147-pound championship against England’s Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York. That bout will be distributed by ESPN as a pay-per-view main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.