Undefeated heavyweight Nicolai Valuev, who has had only two of his forty pro fights in the United States, can now box in this country without the involvement of his former promoter, Top Glove Promotions. Valuev's attorney, Patrick English, convinced a federal judge to vacate a previous default ruling against the seven-foot tall boxer that included a judgment of a $176,000 and an injunction forbidding Valuev to fight for another promoter. In a decision issued last week by a federal court in New Jersey, the judge also ruled that Top Glove promotions likely violated the Muhammad Ali Act when it signed Valuev to a combined management/promotional contract.
Joseph O’Donnell and Top Glove Promotions signed Valuev to an “exclusive representation agreement” that gave Top Glove the right to manage and promote Valuev all over the world except for Valuev’s home country, Russia. Valuev had all of one fight in the United States for Top Glove (against George Linberger in Atlantic City, New Jersey) until the relationship soured. In 2001, Top Glove claimed Valuev breached the agreement and filed suit against the boxer in federal court in New Jersey. Valuev did not respond to the suit and Top Glove obtained a default judgment for about $176,000 plus an injunction that prohibited Valuev from fighting anywhere in the world unless Top Glove was involved. Valuev continued to fight in Europe and Asia where the court’s ruling had no effect. Eventually, Valuev signed with a Sauerland Event, a major German promoter, and his last seven fights have been in Germany. He lives in St. Petersburg, Russia and trains in Armenia.
Valuev eventually retained Patrick English to represent him in the New Jersey case, and last week, English’s efforts finally bore fruit when Judge Jerome Simandle threw out the default judgment. Although Top Glove can still mount a case against Valuev, Judge Simandle’s written opinion make Top Glove’s chances of success look pretty bleak because simultaneously serving as a promoter and a manager is a no-no under United States law. “The language and stated purpose of [the Muhammad Ali Act] seem to contemplate and prohibit agreements such as the one here,” wrote Judge Simandle. The judge also ruled that Valuev was not properly served with the legal papers back in 2001.
“Valuev is clearly free of the contract and the threat of enforcement of the judgment. He is now free to pursue his boxing career here in the U.S.,” said English, “although he is a logical candidate to fight one of the Klitschkos in Germany.”