Canelo Alvarez Refiles Breach of Contract Suit Against DAZN, Golden Boy, De La Hoya

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has taken the fight back to the courtroom.

The three-division champion and pound-for-pound has refiled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions, company founder and chairman Oscar de la Hoya and sports streaming service DAZN-USA, with the case submitted to the Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles on Monday afternoon. The 23-page lawsuit—a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com—comes with subtle but key modifications in line with a previous submission which was dismissed without prejudice by the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. 

The case will now be presided by the Honorable Michael P. Linfield, who was first appointed to the Superior Court in 2003.

As was the case with the first lawsuit filed earlier this month, Alvarez is suing for breach of contract; intentional interference with contract; negligent interference with contract; fraud and concealment; and breach of fiduciary duty. All complaints are in relation to the record-breaking 11-fight, $365 million contract Alvarez signed in 2018, which allowed Golden Boy Promotions to provide his exclusive services to DAZN-USA, a sports streaming service which at the time was a rookie player in the stateside boxing market.

DAZN North America, Inc., DAZN Media Inc., DAZN US LLC., Perform Investment Limited, Golden Boy Promotions LLC, Golden Boy Promotions Inc. and de la Hoya are all once again named as defendants in the official complaint.

“The behavior and breaches of Golden Boy Promotions and DOES cannot simply be cast onto DAZN’s failure to pay its license fee,” notes Gregory Smith and Pat Maloney of The Maloney Firm LLP, lead attorneys for Alvarez and SA Holiday, Inc. “In the Alvarez Contract Golden Boy Promotions and De La Hoya personally committed to make the guaranteed payments. After DAZN announced it would breach its obligations to pay the license fee, Alvarez accommodated Golden Boy with several weeks to find an alternative means of broadcasting his bouts and paying his guarantee.

“Golden Boy Promotions failed to present a single plan thereafter. Moreover, Golden Boy Promotions have breached the Alvarez Contract by violating the confidentially provisions and leaking contract detail to the media for the purpose of bringing additional attention and prestige to Golden Boy Promotions.”

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Alvarez is claiming damages of no less than $280 million, the remaining balance on his aforementioned contract. Relief is also sought for punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, cost of lawsuit, judicial determination for Alvarez to fight outside of the existing contract between Golden Boy and DAZN and “other and further relief as the Court determines is necessary and proper under the circumstances.”

The deal was initially christened with Alvarez making $15 million for a December 2018 knockout win over Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden in New York City. From there, Guadalajara’s Alvarez was guaranteed a minimum of $35 million per fight under the deal—which was to come out of the $40 million package paid to Golden Boy by DAZN for each fight beginning with his May 2019 middleweight title unification win over Daniel Jacobs.

Alvarez’s last ring appearance came in November 2019, knocking out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to become just the fourth boxer in history to win major titles at junior middleweight, middleweight and light heavyweight.

Eight fights remain on the contract, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic ruining plans for the Mexican superstar to return to the ring this May, where he was due to challenge England’s Billy Joe Saunders in a bid to become a legitimate four-division titlist. Since then has come a struggle to return to the sport’s biggest attraction to the ring. Alvarez and DAZN discussed the necessity of his taking less than his contractually guaranteed amount, though failing to see eye to eye on an appropriate figure.

As much was addressed in the initial lawsuit, which was rejected by the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. In a court ruling on September 11—three days after the initial filing—U.S. District Court district judge Percy Anderson noted that “Because the Complaint alleges the citizenship of the LLC defendants as if they were corporations, rather than as limited liability companies, the Complaint has not properly alleged the citizenship of those parties.

“Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties. As a result, Plaintiffs’ allegations are not sufficient to invoke this Court’s diversity jurisdiction.”

The court granted Alvarez leave to amend the original complaint, requiring the boxer’s legal team to do so by close of business on September 28. Had the deadline not been met, the case would have been dismissed without prejudice, which would not have closed the case outright but would require the plaintiff to refile.

The case remained open and in chambers with the U.S. District Court, court officials confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Tuesday. However, the case is now in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.

All matters introduced in the first round of the complaint are once again addressed in the refiled case. Amendments were made, including proper identification and classification of each party named in the complaint along with the chosen destination to resubmit the lawsuit.

“The Courts of the State of California have personal jurisdiction over each of the Defendants because each has resided in or conducted business in California related to the events and circumstances alleged herein. Specifically, 1) Golden Boy Promotions is based in Los Angeles County; 2) Oscar De La Hoya resides in Los Angeles County; and 3) DAZN has employees within Los Angeles County, conducts business within Los Angeles County, and broadcasts to customers within Los Angeles County.

“Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 395(a), venue is proper in the County of Los Angeles because at least one of the defendants reside there.”

 In between the original complaint and the refiled version came a meeting between all involved parties in hopes of resolving all issues without having to go the distance in a court of law. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com contributor Dan Rafael, Alvarez met with de la Hoya, Golden Boy president Eric Gomez and representatives from DAZN for more than eight hours last Wednesday to figure out to the best laid plans to move forward, even discussing the possibility of a restructured deal which would have meant a lower guarantee per fight for Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) but more flexibility in opponent selection.

 A key sticking point throughout Alvarez’s deal has been a general disinterest in his agreeing to a third fight with Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin, whom signed with the over-the-top streaming service last year and with the promise of a such a fight taking place.

 No such language was entered into Alvarez’s contract, nor does “the Alvarez Contract… require Alvarez to box any specific opponent. Instead, it specified that Alvarez’ opponents “be mutually selected by [Alvarez] and [Golden Boy Promotions], subject to [Alvarez’] final approval, not to be unreasonably withheld.”

 The contract in Alvarez’s possession does not specify DAZN’s final authority on accepting or rejecting any agreed-upon opponent. Unbeknownst to the boxer, there existed a contract between Golden Boy and DAZN where “Golden Boy Promotions had already surrendered approval rights for his opponents to DAZN.”

 Additionally, the lawsuit raises the point that DAZN was unaware that “[t]he Alvarez Contract carved out specific potential opponents – including former world middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin – as requiring a guaranteed payment of no less than $35 million, to be separately negotiated between Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions. 

 “Alvarez later came to be aware that DAZN had not been informed by Golden Boy Promotions that his contract contained the requirement for additional compensation for a bout with Mr. Golovkin.”

 In the filed complaint, Alvarez addresses his having requested a copy of the DAZN contract with Golden Boy, which he has only recently seen in the aforementioned meeting between all parties last Wednesday.

 All such issues factored into Alvarez’ inability to make his way back to the ring since the sport as a whole began to regularly function in the U.S. The matter was discussed back in May, with hopes of Alvarez fighting in September and December, at the contractually guaranteed purse amount.

 Alvarez and his legal team readdressed the issue on June 24, roughly 10 weeks out from Alvarez’s intention to return to the ring on September 12 ahead of Mexican Independence Day. He missed out on fighting on the coveted holiday in 2019 due to a severe breakdown in communication by Golden Boy Promotions, whose failed efforts to secure a date with mandatory title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko cost Alvarez the IBF middleweight title last summer.

 The matter served as a point of contention between the boxer and de la Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions has served as his promoter since 2010. Efforts to get back in the ring this September instead soured the relationship between Alvarez and DAZN, whom the lawsuit alleges responded to the matter in June with “an anticipatory breach of the DAZN and Alvarez Contracts.

 “It unambiguously stated that it would not pay the required license fee, and provided a with a series of excuses, including, but not limited to, the fact that Alvarez had not fought Mr. Golovkin in 2019 and that Golden Boy Promotions had not put forth a plan for a second Alvarez fight in 2020.”

 DAZN’s offer at the time was to pay Alvarez and Golden Boy “a fraction of the contracted $40 million license fee in cash and some DAZN stock in advance of a potential IPO. However, the entire value of the package – for a bout against another World Champion – was substantially less than Alvarez’ contractual guarantee.”

 With that came Alvarez’s request for Golden Boy Promotions to seek another avenue to present his next fight. The lawsuit alleges that no such alternative plan was offered by the Los Angeles-based outfit despite reports “that it was talking to various broadcasters.”

 It was the last straw for Alvarez, whose legal team took the matter to court—and has done so once again with nine filed causes of action, including claims that “Golden Boy Promotions and DOES’ breaches have caused Alvarez to suffer 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.”

 The fact that DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions continue to conduct business together is also addressed in the complaint addressing breach of fiduciary duty.

 “[A]fter DAZN informed Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions that it would not pay the license fee for Alvarez’ anticipated September 2020 bout, Golden Boy acted in furtherance of its own interests by trying to preserve its opportunities for non-Alvarez bouts (and associated license fees) with DAZN. Golden Boy Promotions failed to make any other proposal to Alvarez as to how it would get his bouts broadcast or pay the fees guaranteed him.”

 Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN recently announced an October 30 card, headlined by a middleweight bout between Jaime Munguia and Tureano Johnson. The two parties are also in the process of securing a date for an interim lightweight title fight between Victorville, California’s Ryan Garcia and England’s Luke Campbell. Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy and a training stablemate of Alvarez, as both are guided by 2019 Trainer of the Year Eddy Reynoso.

 The matter is now in the hands of the L.A. Superior Court, with Alvarez and his legal team are requesting a trial by jury to resolve the matter, absent such resolution in continued behind the scene meetings between all involved parties.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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