DiBella Retains Burstein For Potential Suit Against Jermain Taylor!

By G. Leon


DiBella Retains Burstein For Potential Suit Against Jermain Taylor!

GL: Judd have you been retained by Lou DiBella to potentially litigate against Team Jermain Taylor should they decide not to re-sign with DiBella entertainment?

Judd Burstein: "Yes. We have sent a notice of default under the contract to Jermain on the grounds that he had an HBO multi-fight proposal given to him. He had a period of time in which to reject it, he did not reject it. Subsequently, he and his representatives have taken the position that the terms of the agreement are fine, but that Jermain is not to sign it because signing it would automatically Lou's agreement with Jermain."

GL: In many cases promoters place stipulations in their contracts where a fighter's term under contract gets extended should that fighter become highly rated or acquire a minor/major title. Is that not the case with DiBella's contract?

Judd Burstein: "One of the remarkable things about Lou and his contract, and I'm not talking about this contract in general, I'm talking about how he deals with fighters. Unlike any other promoter he imposes upon himself a fiduciary duty, which is not, under the law required for a promoter. Another thing he did and does is, he doesn't have these automatic extension periods that could tire a fighter up for his entire career. The only grounds for extension was if he could deliver a multi-fight agreement. I am not going to go into the terms of that agreement because it would be inappropriate. We're not going to play the same game Mr. (Jimmy) Binns has played in violating the contract by releasing confidential terms. However, I will say that if we end up in a legal proceeding I will show that this was an extraordinary deal he negotiated for Jermain. His refusal to accept it is either irrational or the product of advice from people who are not acting in his best interest."

GL: I'm not aware of what exactly Binns disclosed. What did he say?

JB: "He disclosed to a reporter my notice of default, which included a discussion of the terms of the contract. And that's a violation of the contract."

GL: I hear it was a three year deal worth about $10M. Is that correct?

JB: "It's not appropriate for me to comment on that. I'm not going to say if that's accurate or inaccurate."

GL: Lou's contract with Jermain expires at the end of next March. Why has he decided to retain you as his legal counsel so soon? Do you expect this to come to a head before then?

JB: "It has to come to a head. Because the availability of HBO dates is interwoven with the issue of the multi-fight and the ability to move Jermain's career forward, which Lou has done a magnificent job of, is intertwined with the issue of the multi-fight. And more fundamentally, they've announced that they're not signing the multi-fight at this time because they don't want to have Jermain's contract with Lou extended."

GL: Why would they say something like that?

JB: "My sense of it is that Mr. Binns, who has just taken over the management, has done a number of things....since he's a bright guy, he's done and said a number of things that can only be explained by the fact that he must be acting without actually taking the time to read the contract."

GL: I'm confused and I'm having a hard time pin-pointing the logic of him turning down an HBO deal when quite frankly, fighters like Wright, Hopkins, Spinks, Tarver and Corrales are more deserving of such a deal.

JB: "It's mind boggling to turn down and multi-fight HBO deal. That is, from a promoter's perspective where you want to be in the sport of boxing. And you're absolutely right, there are other fighters who have not been able to get that. This fits right in to what I've told you in the past, that with the exception of Shane Mosley, I'm done representing fighters. This kind of ingratitude and lack of honor is so pervasive that I just chose not to get involved with fighters anymore. The problem with almost every fighter, and I must say I'm not even talking about the people I've represented, because generally the people I've represented have been some quality people, but as a general rule the problem with the sport of boxing is, generally there's an entourage. And generally the entourage contains people who are far more interested in helping themselves than in doing what's right for the fighter, and the person actually trying to the honest job and helping them has no chance of prevailing because the person looking out for his own interest instead of the fighter has the ability to whisper in the fighter's ear day after day. Nobody who is advising Jermain Taylor on the basis of what is in Jermain Taylor's best interest would conceivably say, 'don't sign an HBO multi-fight agreement.'"

GL: Do you think there's another promoter who may perhaps already have Jermain or his manager's ear?

JB: "I hope it's not a function of another promoter trying to get in there because it's only going to result in a lawsuit against that promoter. But I think that this is a function of part of what's wrong with the sport. There's no loyalty. And the result of that is that Jermain has gotten to the point where he's on the cusp of becoming a big star, but he's got people telling him, 'don't be concerned with the person who got you there, don't be concerned with doing what's right, just be concerned with looking for someone who's going to show you the money.'"

GL: People still might have a hard time understanding why he's retained you seven months before his contract expires?

JB: "Look, the breach has happened. And the reality of it is, the HBO multi-fight agreement is not going to be on the table forever. HBO dates are like gold right now."

GL: Do you think Jermain Taylor gets an HBO deal without Lou DiBella?

JB: "He certainly cannot get an HBO deal before March of 2005, and if he gets an HBO without Lou DiBella he's going to be paying a substantial percentage of what he earns to Lou DiBella, plus another promoter."

GL: What's your take on Jermain Taylor's position? Is this something he's better of resolving immediately?

JB: "I've rarely seen a contractual provision that is as black and white as this provision. Nothing is guaranteed, I learned that with the Antonio Tarver case, but my view of it is, that it's an extremely strong case. And frankly, I wouldn't have taken it if it weren't a strong case. Interestingly, when Lou first contacted me and I started looking at and didn't see the whole contract, my intial reaction was to turn it down. It was only when I got more into the facts and just studied everything that I became convinced that it was an overwhelming case."

GL: When might there be an official update as to which direction this matter is going?

JB: "If this is not resolved by next weekend, we will be commencing proceedings one week from Monday."


Send questions and comments to: gleon@boxingtalk.net