By Scott Shaffer
Promoter Murad Muhammad reacted angrily to the news that Manny Pacquiao sued him in federal court on Wednesday. Although he said he hadn't reviewed Pacquiao's complaint yet, Muhammad defended himself when reached by telephone at his home. "When I first signed him, no one cared about Manny Pacquiao. I made him rich and famous," said Muhammad. "With me, he got paid more than the heavyweight champion is making this weekend, and he's a featherweight. I should be saluted for the job I've done, but instead I am getting sued."
A reporter explained to Muhammad that the lawsuit accused him of conspiring with Rod and Roberto Nazario, Pacquiao's business managers, to divert Pacquiao's purses to a shell company that left the boxer on the hook for unpaid taxes. Muhammad said on Wednesday that in Pacquiao's most recent bout, a loss to Erik Morales for which Pacquiao was paid a reported $1.75 million, all of the proper withholdings were made for United States taxes. For previous fights, Muhammad said the rule in effect at the time required that taxes be withheld if payment was made to a foreigner like Pacquiao, but if an American corporation was paid, taxes could be paid at a later date. "Under the old law, the check could go to the corporation instead of the individual and 30% did not have to be wittheld. I had nothing to do with that [shell] company. If Manny's in trouble, then its his trouble." In legal terms, Pacquiao claimed that Muhammad aided and abetted the Nazarios' efforts to steal from Pacquiao. However, the Nazarios were not sued, perhaps a strategy by Pacquiao's lawyer Judd Burstein to make sure the case gets tried in an American courtroom instead of a Philippine one.
Muhammad said he viewed the case as a conspiracy against him. "Now that Pacquiao's making big money, everybody's trying to get a piece of him by stealing him from me. I manuevered him into the money position by taking a gamble on the [Juan Manuel] Marquez fight [which was fought to a draw in 2004]. Manny made $750,000 for that fight and I made no money. Then, it was a miracle that I got him $1.75 million for Morales and now I have to clean up my name. I never cheated a fighter in my life, and I aint settling or compromising this case. Hell no, I will win this case."