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March 14, 2012

By Scott Shaffer

Gamboa allegedly took $70,000 advance before flaking on Rios fight

Claiming it invested millions of dollars in the career of Yuriorkis Gamboa, boxing promoter Top Rank, Inc. has sued the Cuban featherweight in federal court for breaching an agreement to face lightweight Brandon Rios on April 14th. A key allegation, that if true, would be very damaging to Gamboa, is Top Rank's claim that Gamboa accepted more than $70,000 as an advance payment when he agreed to the fight. The agreement was allegedly reached on February 16th. Top Rank believes that less than three weeks after taking the advance, Gamboa was convinced by another promoter-- or multiple promoters-- to pull out of the Rios bout. However Top Rank's court filing did not name the alleged culprit(s). The complaint coyly alleged, "why Gamboa decided to breach his contracts with Top Rank is irrelevant. Breach of contract does not require a bad intent. However, upon information, Top Rank believes one or more rival boxing promotion companies and unknown individuals associated with them are at the root of Gamboa's wrongful conduct. These 'poachers' see what everyone sees-- a gifted boxer platformed by Top Rank for superstardom-- and they want to unfairly capitalize on what Top Rank orchestrated and built. Upon information and belief, the rival promoters and others promised Gamboa that if he breaches his contract with Top Rank, they will promote his fights."

Top Rank's case, as laid out in its complaint is that, "based on express promises and representations from Gamboa that he would fight Rios on April 14, 2012, Top Rank advanced Gamboa tens of thousands of dollars and began the colossal undertaking that is boxing event promotion. Top Rank committed millions of dollars and entered into agreements with Mandalay Bay (venue), HBO (broadcaster), Mr. Rios, undercard fighters, marketers, sponsors, and countless others in anticipation of an event dubbed 'Battle of the Undefeateds.' In light of Gamboa's decision to breach, Top Rank, Mandalay Bay, HBO, and Mr. Rios are left to try to find substitute arrangements which may not even be possible. The entire event, and the millions of dollars at stake, are in jeopardy. Gamboa’s breaches and repudiations already have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to Top Rank, threaten millions of dollars more, and, if left unchecked, would do untold reputational damage to Top Rank and its relationships with other fighters, promoters, and the boxing public. Accordingly, Top Rank seeks a judicial declaration that its contracts with Gamboa are enforceable and binding and seeks damages resulting from Gamboa’s willful breach of his obligations."

Gamboa caught the boxing world by surprise on March 5th when he failed to show up for a press conference in his adopted hometown of Miami, which was arranged to formally announce the fight. Top Rank says Gamboa himself requested the press conference be held in Miami and Top Rank spent tens of thousands of dollars to accomodate his wish. Gamboa reportedly confirmed a week later that he would not fight Rios and wanted to disassociate himself from Top Rank.

When Gamboa fled from Cuba, he was originally signed by Ahmet Oner's Arena Box Promotions. Top Rank eventually partnered up with Arena Box, with Gamboa signing onto to the partnership arrangement. The lawsuit does not specify Arena Box's position in the dispute.

The lawsuit did, however, lay out Top Rank's claim for damages, even if it did not specify an exact dollar amount. "Top Rank has promoted Gamboa and his bouts for almost three years. Since mid-2009, Top Rank has invested millions of dollars to develop, advance, and promote Gamboa's career. Under Top Rank's financial commitment and stewardship-- just the right mix and selection of opponents, venues, broadcasters, and sponsors-- Gamboa is on the verge of stardom. Now, having benefited from Top Rank's considerable history, talents, connections, and success, Gamboa willfully breached multiple obligations to Top Rank and has clearly and unequivocally announced his intent to repudiate the contracts in their entirety... As a direct result of Gamboa’s anticipatory breach, Top Rank has suffered and will continue to suffer damages in an amount to be proven at trial, but not less than $1,000,000."

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