By Mark Elezaj
Middleweight world champion Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against DAZN, Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya in federal court in Los Angeles Tuesday, claiming damages of at least $280 million, the money that is owed to him for the remainder of his contract with DAZN.
Canelo also wants to sever his promotional ties with Golden Boy and is looking to continue his career with another broadcast partner and walk away from DAZN.
In the 24-page lawsuit, a copy which was obtained by FightingVoice.com, Canelo is suing for breach of contract, intentional interference with a contract, negligent interference with a contract, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty related to the five-year, 11-fight deal worth record $365 million.
The lawsuit states that Álvarez was guaranteed payments totaling $365m for his next 11 fights. A $15m purse for a December 2018 fight with contender Rocky Fielding and $35m for his next 10 bouts from 2019 through 2023.
The $35m guarantees for each fight were due to come out of the $40m license fee paid by Dazn to Golden Boy for each event.
Álvarez claims he was paid for the Fielding bout and for his victories over Danny Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev, but accuses Dazn and Golden Boy of failing to propose plans for his 2020 fights, despite his willingness to consider “offers in good faith” for payments below the guaranteed amount due to the financial squeeze bought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the suit, “Despite repeated promises that an alternative offer was imminent, Dazn failed to make a proposal to either Golden Boy Promotions or Álvarez for several months. When Golden Boy Promotions and Álvarez proposed opponents, Dazn refused to confirm that it was prepared to broadcast Álvarez’ September 2020 bout or that it would pay the contracted $40 million license fee.”
The complaint alleges that Dazn offered to pay Álvarez and Golden Boy a fraction of the contracted fee in cash and an unspecified amount of stock in the UK-based company in advance of a potential IPO, but the value of the offer was “substantially less than Álvarez’s guarantee”.
“Given that Dazn had made it clear that it would not honor its contract, throughout the spring and summer of 2020, Álvarez repeatedly asked Golden Boy Promotions to explore alternative broadcast options for a fall 2020 bout,” the complaint stated. “Although Golden Boy Promotions reported that it was talking to various broadcasters, it failed to put forth a single alternative plan by which it would pay Álvarez the $35 million it had promised him for each of his fights.
“Álvarez has fought the first three of his eleven fights under the Álvarez and Dazn Contracts. He is owed remaining guaranteed payments of $280 million”
The lawsuit also claims that Álvarez, who is demanding a trial by jury, has “suffered harm and damages, including, but not limited to, the denied guaranteed payments, lost gate revenue, and opportunities for ancillary revenue associated with bouts, such as sponsorships and apparel revenue” as a result of the wrongdoing.
“I’m the pound-for-pound No. 1 in the world,” Alvarez said when speaking with The Athletic in an official statement. “I’m not scared of any opponent in the ring, and I’m not going to let failures of my broadcaster or promoters keep me out of the ring. I filed the lawsuit so I can get back to boxing and give my fans the show they deserve.”
Golden Boy said the issue is not between them and Alvarez, but the issue is between Alvarez and DAZN.
“They’re the ones refusing to honor the contract by not approving the outstanding opponents we have presented to them and by refusing to pay the contractually required amount,” Golden Boy spokesman Stefan Friedman told BoxingScene. “Even though our contract specifically gives Golden Boy the right to wait until the pandemic is over and fans can return, in the best interests of boxing, Golden Boy is doing everything it can to make great fights happen. We remain ready, willing and able to make a fight for Canelo as soon as possible.”
According to the lawsuit, other than Fielding, the contract did not require Alvarez to face “any specific opponent. Instead, it specified that Alvarez’ opponents ‘be mutually selected’” by Alvarez, Golden Boy and DAZN and that approval “not to be unreasonably withheld.”
“Nobody from Golden Boy ever promised anyone that Canelo would fight any specified opponent,” Friedman said. “We simply agreed to put on the kind of premier, history-making fights we worked on together in 2019.”
Alvarez has disagreed with that assertion.
“The Alvarez Contract did not require Alvarez to select Mr. Golovkin as his opponent in 2019, or at any time thereafter,” the suit said. “In fact, the Alvarez Contract required that a bout with Mr. Golovkin would require additional guaranteed payment in excess of $25 million, to be separately negotiated. … Alvarez was not told that Golden Boy Promotions had already entered into an agreement with DAZN that gave DAZN a role in approving his future opponents. Neither did Golden Boy Promotions disclose that they had represented to DAZN that Alvarez would have a bout with Mr. Golovkin in 2019.”
Also, the suit alleges that Golden Boy “intentionally failed to disclose that they had made representations and/or promises to DAZN that exceeded or were inconsistent with the terms of the Alvarez Contract.
Alvarez is informed and believes that DAZN is now using the previously undisclosed representations and/or promises of Golden Boy Promotions as excuses for its failure to approve of and pay for Alvarez bouts in the fall 2020 and beyond.”
~The Fighting Voice~