By Rick Reeno
Back in June, junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland (23-0, 20KOs), and IBF/IBO flyweight champion Nonito Donaire (19-1, 12KOs), broke their ties with promoter Gary Shaw. Letters were issued to Shaw on behalf of both fighters, claiming that he breached their promotional contracts by falling behind on the number of fights that were owed to them, and there were claims that Shaw had violated the Muhammad Ali Act by failing to properly disclose revenue numbers from previous fights.
According to Shaw, the fighters were pulled from his company without good reason by their manager, Cameron Dunkin. While speaking with BoxingScene.com, Shaw denied any allegations of wrongdoing, and claims that a personal grudge being held by Dunkin was the primary reason for both fighters being pulled. Donaire was eventually picked up by Top Rank, while Kirkland is the centerpiece of an ongoing legal battle between Shaw and Kirkland's co-managers, Dunkin and attorney Michael Miller.
"It's a case of who a manager likes and dislikes and it's hurting the fighter. Cameron pulled the rug right from under Kirkland. He would have fought on HBO in September for $150,000. Instead he fought on some ESPN show and made a fraction of that. I feel badly for James Kirkland," Shaw said.
"I heard he was just dropped by the NABO. What kind of management is that? The same with Nonito Donaire. What was the sense of leaving me? What did he accomplish? He's going to fight on a small pay-per-view, and maybe 50,000 people will see it. Cameron dislikes me and that's ok. You don’t have to like me - it's business. Cameron probably doesn't care about what's best for Kirkland, he cares more about not liking me. Do you think Arum really Loves Oscar [De La Hoya] and Richard Schaefer and vice versa. No, it's business and they work together. Do you think people like dealing with Don King? No, it's business."
"This is why fighters should questions their manager as to the moves the manager is making. The fighters should have the opportunity to speak to the promoter and find out what’s the story. As the fighter speaks to his manager, he's only hearing one side of the story. if the manager is doing the right thing, he should not be afraid to let the fighter speak to the promoter. And then he and his manager can make a decision. What has happened is almost criminal on behalf of Kirkland."
When contacted for comment, Dunkin, speaking on the record for the first time with respect to some of the allegations that have been going around for the last few months - held nothing back when it came to his feelings on Shaw and some of the events leading up to both Kirkland and Donaire leaving Shaw's promotional company. While Dunkin doesn't deny his dislike for Shaw, he says there is a lot more to the story than the issues being claimed in the legal suit. Dunkin alleges that Shaw tried to persuade both fighters to fire him. Dunkin was also advised that Shaw wanted Kirkland to hire his son, Jared Shaw, in a managerial role.
"Rick, I haven't said one word about him, but he won't leave it alone. I stay out of his business, but every time I turn around he's saying something about me. Every time I turn around someone is calling me to say that Gary Shaw said something about me. It's nothing personal with Gary. I don't like him, but it's because he's a bad guy, not because of something personal," Dunkin said.
"He called Donaire and told him to leave me. He told Kirkland leave me and to leave Mike Miller, who is the co-manager and an attorney. He told them that his son Jared can manage them. He said 'get rid of those guys, I'll get you those fights.' I don't need a piece of sh*t like that around my fighters. He accused me of doing to stuff to Nonito Donaire and I did nothing. He and Donaire don't like each other. I had nothing to do with it. Donaire's problem is with Gary."
Shaw denied the allegations, stating that he did nothing but sell Kirkland and Donaire to the networks in order to get them televised dates.
"Absolutely not true. I would take a lie detector test. Ask him if he would. It's an outright lie. I would take a polygraph and he would have to, too. I never spoke to Kirkland about my son Jared and I never spoke to Donaire about my son Jared. There are a lot of managers that I don't like. There are trainers who I think aren’t good for some fighters. I don’t tell them to leave their trainers or their managers. There are a lot of managers who go to the conventions of the sanctioning bodies to protect their fighters, ask him which has he gone to and when," Shaw said.
"The difference between Cameron and I, is that I tell the truth and Cameron is a liar. Everyone in boxing knows that Cameron is a liar and a bullsh*tter. Almost everyone where Cameron works, at Top Rank, can't stand him. I won't name who, but half the guys there can't stand him. If Cameron had a heart attack, people in that office would step over him on the way to lunch. Shelly Finkel is a good manager and he‘s had a whole slew of fighters who stayed with him from the start of their career, to the end of their career. How many fighters has Cameron had that stayed with him the start and were there at the end?"
“Kirkland goes on Showtime five times in a row, he then goes on HBO and then Cameron pulls him. Nobody knew Kirkland. Nobody was interested in him. I took a chance on him and built him. I sold him to HBO and Ross Greenberg will tell you that. I was calling them all the time on Kirkland. Instead of Gamboa, it could have Kirkland on top last weekend with $150,000 in his pocket. They misplayed their hand and thought I would lose the HBO date if Kirkland was pulled. TV can do without anybody. HBO was very happy with [Alfredo] Angulo and Gamboa. Ask Kirkland and Ann Wolfe [Kirkland’s trainer] what I did wrong. Anyone who’s called, reporters and other promoters, said I did a great job with him. The issue with him keeps coming up because people feel bad about what happened to Kirkland.”
“With Donaire, I had Vic Darchinyan and I gave Nonito that shot. He went on the record after he won and said that he owed it all to Gary Shaw. I came up with that fight. He didn’t say that he owed anything to Cameron Dunkin. He’s a 112-pound fighter that nobody cared about. I made Nonito Doniare, the Filipino Flash. I couldn’t get HBO interested because they didn’t want to do the lighter guys and Showtime gave me the ability and I put him in with my own fighter and gave him the opportunity. Top Rank and Golden Boy weren’t knocking down Nonito's door saying ‘we have to have this guy.’ Darchinyan never hated me for that fight. He‘s loyal and that whole team is loyal and now he’s fighting Mijares. What was Donaire's issue when he took my $10,000 dollars?"
The $10,000 dollars that Shaw refers to, is money that he laid out to Donaire for use towards training expenses for an event in Dubai that eventually fell apart. Shaw believes that Donaire and Dunkin still owe him that money.
“Donaire and his manager stiffed me. When Donaire needed training money. I went out to the Philippines and gave him $10,000 in cash and I hope that he reports that on his taxes. I was never reimbursed. The Philippines television station wanted him to sign a contract. I looked it over and pulled him to side and told him not do it because the station would have owned him. I was doing what Dunkin should have been doing,” Shaw said. "If your hands aren’t clean, you shouldn’t throw dirt.”
Dunkin says the facts are being twisted, that he and Donaire do not owe Shaw a dime when it comes to the failed Dubai event, because the liability falls on Shaw.
“That's a lie. We didn’t stiff him. Gary wasn’t getting him any fights. Finally this local guy from the Philippines, he says that he’s going to pay Gary $300,000 for Donaire to fight in Dubai. The reason the event was cancelled was because the guy pulled out on Gary. Gary never had the decency to call me and tell me there is no fight. The first time I learned there was no fight was from Sampson [Lewkowicz],” Dunkin said.
“Gary is responsible for the money and the other money owed to the kid. He's liable for that and I am going to sue him for the money. I’ve left it alone but I won‘t anymore. I have a signed bout contract.”
“Anyone who would call one of my fighters behind my back, that’s criminal. He called Ann Wolfe to make a move and she called me and said ‘what kind of guy would do that?’ Mike Miller called him about it and he apologized to Mike and said he was sorry. I stood up for him with Shelly and everyone else and told people that deep down inside that he was a decent guy, but after he did that I’m not going to stand up for this guy any more.”
“I don’t want to hear that he made Kirkland by himself. It takes a good manager, cutman, trainer, promoter, TV - it's everybody. It's not one person. Look at how many good fighters I have without Gary Shaw who are undefeated, making money, shown on HBO, on Showtime.“
When put on the spot with respect to the conversation with Wolfe, Shaw didn’t deny the conversation taking place, and he didn’t deny the conversation with Miller, but says the details are being exaggerated.
“That’s a different story. Ann Wolfe called me and said she was unhappy with Cameron. I told her to ‘do what you have to do.’ At that point, I was unaware that Mike Miller was the co-manager. I only had dealings with Cameron. I never dealt with Miller and I did apologize to him,” Shaw says. “Cameron told his own partner, Michael, that he’s been going to HBO on behalf of Kirkland, when there was an email from Ross Greenberg that said I was the one going to them on behalf of Kirkland. I was there for one whole year selling Kirkland.”
“I’m one of the few promoters who actually cares about the fighter. Some of these other guys are car salesmen and all the fighters are to them are pieces of metal they looking to sell. You can say that I’m a bad guy. I’m sure I’ve done or said some things that have been hurtful to others. We’re all human. I’ve never hurt a fighter. I got a big heart. I was good to the Doniare family. Ask Angulo about what I’ve given to him and others that have been down and out in California. I’m such a bad guy, that I just got a text message as I spoke to you from Michelle Corrales, telling me ’let’s have lunch’ when I’m in town.”
“I don’t have a personal relation with James Kirkland. I never had one. I was his promoter and I did an excellent job. Cameron didn’t get him anywhere, Gary Shaw did. That’s why Cameron brought him to me. Who came up with the Filipino promoter in Dubai? Did I come up with the guy or did Donaire come up with him? What money has Cameron laid out? He didn’t come to Donaire’s fight with Maldonado because Donaire didn’t want to give him one of his hotel rooms and he was too cheap to get his own room. There must be a reason why most of the fighters who are with Cameron never stay with him. Does he remember when Marc Ratner was in charge? When he went to Marc and said he’d like to do business with me.”
“The only person really being hurt in this is James Kirkland. They have him locked in litigation when he should be locked in a ring. What does Cameron care? Pavlik will be fighting again. Pavlik will be making money, and so will Cameron. If he didn’t like me so much, he should have just let the contract run out so Kirkland could keep fighting. James would have made $150,000 last week and had that money in his pocket for the holidays. I can tell you because I‘ve been there when Cameron comes to my fights, and the only things cares about his own check - that‘s the first thing. When they come to their senses, I‘ll be more than happy work with them to put Kirkland back on HBO and Showtime”
Dunkin says a lot of things happened during the course of his relationship with Shaw. He says that he let a lot of the occurrences go, but there came a point where he couldn’t continue to let them continue.
"I've probably managed more fighters than he's promoted fighters. He's a crooked guy who goes behind your back, and calls your fighters behind your back. Just look at what happened with Winky Wright, Jeff Lacy, Diego Corrales, do you want me to keep going? Donaire can’t look at him because of the sh*t he said about me behind my back. Even when he called my fighters, I let it go. I let a lot of things go. I won't let it go anymore,” Dunkin said.
“What happened with the MMA? Gary, what happened with EliteXC? He keeps bringing my name up and he’s going to be sorry if he keeps bringing my name up. When I took those two fighters, along with several others to Shaw, I never had any intention of going anywhere else, ever!”
Hopefully, the two sides can put their heads together to reach some kind of middle ground, because regardless of who you believe and which side you take, the most important issue at hand is the career of Kirkland and getting him back on track.