By Miguel Rivera, photos by Roberto Koltun
All Star Boxing President Felix 'Tutico' Zabala had some strong words when he took the stand in his lawsuit against two-division world champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions.
In the legal documents, the promoter claims to have signed Canelo to a four-year promotional agreement in 2008. There was a clause that extending that agreement if Canelo became world champion during the time frame of the deal - but Zabala claims the Mexican superstar violated the terms of that contract by signing with Golden Boy Promotions the following year.
The two sides are currently on trial in Florida. The case is chaired by Judge Migna Sánchez Llorens in the Judicial Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County.
Zabala filed the lawsuit in 2010 and the trial finally started last week. Canelo captured his first world title when became the super welterweight champion of the World Boxing Council (WBC) in 2011 after beating Matthew Hatton by decision.
Zabala's lawyer, Alejandro Brito, said the breach by Canelo and the contract interference by Golden Boy head Oscar De La Hoya has caused $27 million in damages to his client. This figure does not include punitive damages, which under the laws of Florida, could triple the amount originally claimed.
"He was my boxer until he was taken away," Zabala told the jury.
"I offered everything for the benefit of this boy who is sitting here. I had a right to earn [money] but when I told that the budget was very little [for Canelo's fights], I decided to give everything to him, because we were investing in him."
Alex Brito, the lawyer for Zabala, presented a copy of the promotional contract signed by Canelo and manager Jose 'Chepo' Reynoso for four years dated September 15, 2008. He also presented photos of the work visa that Zabala obtained for Canelo so the boxer could travel and fight in the United States and a copy his passport.
Canelo nine fights under the promotion of All Star Boxing. The first on the 24th of November 2008 and the last on December 5, 2009 against Larry Mosley. For these fights in a span of 13 months, Canelo pocketed about $180,000. Canelo then accepted an offer from De La Hoya and signed with Golden Boy Promotions. Since leaving Zabala, he's had 17 fights.
Zabala is looking to take this case to a verdict.
"We are not looking for a settlement," the promoter said to Notimex during a recess of the trial.