OUT-OF-COURT: MANNY TKOs MURAD
MANILA, June 30, 2005 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - In the face of overwhelming evidence, Murad Muhammad threw in the towel the other day and offered an out-of-court settlement to end the New York federal jury trial of the $33 Million case Manny Pacquiao filed against the New Jersey promoter.
It was a resounding victory not only for Pacquiao but also for the sport of boxing. Pacquiao won the first test of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which seeks to protect fighters from unscrupulous elements, in a jury trial.
Pacquiao told The STAR in an overseas phone call from Los Angeles yesterday the triumph has brought back his desire to fight. He described it as a win by technical knockout.
"Sa totoo lang, nawalaan na ako ng gana sa boksing kasi niloloko ako ng mga taong pinagkatiwalaan ko," said Pacquiao. "Subalit, ngayon, sabik na naman akong lumaban. Araw-araw na akong mag-iinsayo."
Pacquiao left New York for Los Angeles on a late Tuesday afternoon flight. He was accompanied by wife Jinkee, interpreter Joseph Ramos and his wife Joanna and lawyers Keith Davidson and Nicholas Khan. Pacquiao and his wife will arrive in Manila on a Philippine Airlines flight Tuesday morning.
A source said Muhammad offered to settle early this week but his tender of $1 Million was rebuffed.
Pacquiao filed a case seeking $13 Million on five claims of relief and $20 Million in damages last April. Federal judge Loretta Preska began trial proceedings in the Southern District of New York last June 20.
A source said in rejecting Muhammad’s initial offer, Pacquiao’s camp quoted a take-it-or-leave-it amount of $8 Million.
There was no confirmation on the terms of settlement but a source revealed Muhammad agreed to pay for Pacquiao’s legal fees, released Pacquiao from a contract expiring in August next year, recalled a suit he filed against Pacquiao’s management team and trainer Freddie Roach and paid an undisclosed amount.
The settlement means Pacquiao will claim the balance of the pay-per-view receipts that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum withheld for Muhammad in relation to the Erik Morales fight last March. The balance is anywhere between $1.2 to 2 Million. It was not certain if Pacquiao would receive what Muhammad earlier got from the pay-per-view upside share, estimated to be in the range of $1 to 2 Million.
With Muhammad out of the way, Pacquiao’s manager Shelly Finkel will try to book a tune-up fight in September preparatory to a Morales rematch in December.
Pacquiao said the victory was for "all of boxing."
Before going to court, Pacquiao said he would fight Muhammad to the end not for himself but for other fighters similarly victimized and unable to seek legal recourse because of lack of resources.
Pacquiao said he wasn’t scared to file the case and would’ve gone anywhere in the world to fight for the cause of all boxers. He said the test case for the Reform Act sets a precedent that will redound to the benefit of fighters all over the globe.
"I am proud to be the example," said Pacquiao in perfect English, referring to the landmark case involving the Reform Act.
Pacquiao said when he returns to Manila, he will divulge the details of the conspiracy that took a huge slice of his purses from six US fights up to 2004. The initial estimate of what was robbed from Pacquiao amounted to $7 Million, a source intimated.
The settlement was announced in Preska’s court before the jury of eight was to release its decision at the Moynihan US Courthouse in downtown Manhattan last Tuesday morning.
The Reform Act was drafted by Sen. John McCain of Arkansas "to protect the rights and welfare of professional boxers on an interstate basis by preventing certain exploitative, oppressive and unethical business practices, to assist State Boxing Commissions in their efforts to provide more effective public oversight of the sport and to promote honorable competition in professional boxing and enhance the overall integrity of the industry."
The Reform Act provides for full disclosure to a fighter of any compensation or consideration in connection with his bout and stipulates a "firewall" between a promoter and manager.
"It is unlawful for a promoter to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a boxer or a manager to have a direct or indirect financial interest in the promotion of a boxer or to be employed by or receive compensation or other benefits from a promoter, except for amounts received as consideration under the manager’s contract with the boxer," the Reform Act states in Section 5.2.
Because of the "firewall," there is a "natural tension" between a promoter and manager because a promoter tries to lower a fighter’s purse to increase his profit and a manager tries to increase the purse because he earns a percentage of it.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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