Golden Boy files suit against Ryan Garcia to enforce contract

Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions filed a lawsuit against Ryan Garcia and his attorney and adviser, Guadalupe Valencia, on Friday in U.S. District Court of Nevada to enforce its contract with the star boxer.

The suit comes one week after Garcia’s legal team sent Golden Boy Promotions a demand letter alleging violations of the promotional agreement, as well as California and federal law, that invalidate the contract.

ESPN has obtained a copy of Golden Boy’s lawsuit as well as Garcia’s demand letter. The letter called for mediation proceedings to begin the week of July 10 if Golden Boy didn’t cure all of the alleged contractual breaches and set a Friday deadline to address the alleged violations, but Golden Boy instead responded with a lawsuit.

“Golden Boy has been proud to have worked with Ryan Garcia for the last several years and to help catapult him to the kind of stardom that led to the biggest boxing Pay Per View event in years just two months ago,” the promotion said Friday in a statement provided to ESPN. “With this filing, we are seeking to ensure that Ryan and his team will honor the remainder of his contract, a contract that Ryan himself called ‘one of the most lucrative boxing deals for a prospect in the history of the sport.’

“Since then, Ryan has moved on to becoming a legitimate contender, and we will continue to present Ryan with the best possible opponents that can eventually lead the way to a world championship and a historic legacy.”

Reminiscent of Canelo Alvarez’s legal dispute with Golden Boy in 2020, Garcia’s letter suggests that Golden Boy entered conflicting agreements with its top boxer and its broadcast partner, DAZN.

When Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) signed an extension with Golden Boy in September 2019, the contract included a carve out that allowed him to fight on pay-per-view with any network, according to the letter. Despite that language, Golden Boy advised Garcia that his April mega fight vs. Gervonta Davis “could not happen unless it was broadcast on DAZN because of an exclusive agreement Golden Boy had separately negotiated with DAZN.”

The PPV fight vs. Davis was broadcast by Showtime but DAZN also carried the fight on its streaming service and was paid a $1.25 million step-aside fee, $120,000 of which Garcia personally paid to DAZN, according to the letter.

“Golden Boy is obligated to promote and enhance Ryan Garcia, not malign him on Twitter and file a public, baseless lawsuit against him,” said Garcia’s attorney, Bo Pearl of Paul Hastings, in a statement provided to ESPN on Friday. “Ironically, the lawsuit itself constitutes a breach of the very agreement Golden Boy is seeking to enforce. It is obvious retaliation to a letter detailing multiple asserted breaches of contract by Golden Boy.

“Rather than address these serious issues in mediation [as is required under the contract], Golden Boy rushed to court to sue its fighter. To be sure, we will respond to this gamesmanship and fully enforce all of Ryan’s contractual rights against Golden Boy as well as his rights under state and federal law.”

Alvarez, boxing’s top star, was released from his contract with Golden Boy and DAZN in 2020 after it was argued that the language in his deal with the promoter didn’t mesh with Golden Boy’s contract with its broadcast partner pertaining to a trilogy fight with Gennaidy Golovkin.

Garcia, 24, also argued that Golden Boy violated California’s seven-year rule for personal service agreements. He signed with GBP on Nov. 1, 2016, and re-signed on Sept. 18, 2019. Garcia claims the contract should terminate on Nov. 1. De La Hoya himself argued that Top Rank violated the seven-year rule when he sued Bob Arum’s company in 2000.

Garcia also accused Golden Boy of failing to satisfy Ali Act disclosures and asked Golden Boy to amend agreements with DAZN that say Garcia isn’t exclusive to the streaming service. The boxer is also looking to be reimbursed for fees he paid DAZN to allow the Davis fight to proceed.

Furthermore, Garcia claimed that Golden Boy breached the nondisparagement provision in the contract following multiple tweets from De La Hoya on June 1 in which he told Garcia to accept the blame for the loss to Davis and to also blame Valencia, “who pushed you to accept that insane rehydration clause.”

Garcia’s two previous fights took place at 140 pounds, but the fight vs. Davis was contested at a 136-pound catchweight. Neither fighter could weigh more than 146 pounds the morning of the bout.

Garcia also accused Golden Boy of trying to avoid paying out bonuses due to his loss, even though the agreement said that suffering his first loss vs. Vasily Lomachenko, Devin Haney and Davis were exceptions to the bonus structure.

Golden Boy, in response, claimed it has fulfilled all of its contractual obligations and that Garcia is forbidden from negotiating or contracting for any fights not promoted by Golden Boy.

The promoter also accused Valencia of directly interfering with “Golden Boy’s ability to communicate with Garcia and negotiate the best deals and fights for Garcia.” GBP claimed that Valencia violated its agreement with Garcia by engaging in talks with other promoters and boxers for fights in “an effort to drive a wedge between Garcia and Golden Boy.”

Golden Boy said it attempted to resolve the matter but was rebuffed and instead received claims from Garcia in the form of the demand letter.

Golden Boy’s suit attempts to enforce its exclusive promotional agreement with Garcia, damages to be decided at a trial and attorneys’ fees.

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