QUICK RESOLUTION EXPECTED IN PACQUIAO'S LAWSUIT
MANILA, June 9, 2005 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Two-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao’s lawyer Keith Davidson said yesterday he expects a speedy resolution of the recovery case filed by the fighter against New Jersey promoter Murad Muhammad in a New York court.
Manhattan litigator Judd Burstein and Davidson are Pacquiao’s lawyers in the case where he is seeking $13 Million on five claims of relief and $20 Million in punitive damages.
Pacquiao accused Muhammad of short-changing him in arranging his fights in the US and withholding information on contractual terms in violation of the total disclosure principles espoused in the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.
Davidson and Burstein arrived here from Los Angeles the other day to brief Pacquiao on the case and interview possible witnesses to support their charges against Muhammad. They left yesterday.
Pacquiao leaves for New York on Sunday accompanied by Joe Ramos, a Los Angeles resident who flew in with the lawyers. Pacquiao will attend the trial set by federal judge Loretta Preska in New York on June 20.
Davidson said as Pacquiao’s lawyer, he is restrained from issuing statements on the case because of a "gag order" by the courts. He described as "absurd" news reports that Preska has ruled on the case.
"The judge never issued any statement about Manny’s case," said Davidson. "The case will be decided by a jury, not a judge, and the trial will begin in New York on June 20."
A source said Pacquiao’s lawyers requested for a speedy trial which was granted by Preska despite reported objections from Muhammad’s camp.
Davidson said Pacquiao’s next fight has not been finalized as manager Shelly Finkel "is waiting on the trial." However, two fight dates are being held for Pacquiao–Sept. 10 or 17.
Davidson said it’s not certain if International Boxing Federation superfeatherweight champion Robbie Peden will be Pacquiao’s next opponent as the Australian is also being lured by Golden Boy Promotions to face World Boxing Council titlist Marco Antonio Barrera in a unification showdown.
Meanwhile, San Francisco lawyer Sydney Hall, who also filed a case against Muhammad in a separate suit in San Mateo county, met with Burstein, Davidson and Pacquiao for nearly two hours at the Mandarin Hotel last Tuesday afternoon. Hall was accompanied by Pacquiao’s former manager Marty Elorde.
Hall flew in a few days ago and will leave for the US on June 17. He will likely attend the New York trial.
Hall said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum withheld $2 Million from the $4 Million pay-per-view share allocated for Muhammad in the recent Pacquiao fight against Erik Morales in Las Vegas, pending the resolution of the court case. He said it’s possible a settlement will be offered to Pacquiao using the money withheld from Muhammad.
Pacquiao received a purse of $1.75 Million for fighting Morales but had no share in the pay-per-view receipts.
Hall explained that under normal circumstances, the trial would have been scheduled several months after the case was filed but because the motion for a speedy resolution was granted, it was calendared sooner. He said the shortest period within which a decision may be reached is a week.
Hall said he was asked by Pacquiao’s lawyers to take the witness stand against Muhammad in the coming trial.
"I’m thinking about it," said Hall. "My testimony could be damaging to Murad. If Marty testifies, he, too, can be harmful to Murad."
Elorde, however, said he will probably not attend the trial. "I will leave it up to Sydney to decide what I should do but at the moment, I don’t think I’ll go to New York," continued Elorde.
For his part, Muhammad filed a countersuit last May 25, claiming breach of contract because he was "fired" by Pacquiao even as the fighter had signed an agreement for the promoter to arrange five fights from March 1, 2004, to Aug. 31, 2006.
Muhammad’s countersuit included a provision for damages of at least $10 Million from "third-party defendants" Davidson, Nicholas Khan, Freddie Roach and Finkel.
Muhammad said Pacquiao signed a contract where he agreed "not (to) participate in any boxing bouts other than the bouts promoted by M&M (Muhammad’s company) and "not render his services as a professional boxer to any person, firm or entity other than M&M without M&M’s written permission."
Muhammad’s lawyer is Julian Friedman of New York.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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