JOSEPH AGBEKO LAWSUIT: DON KING POCKETED SOME OF MY TAX WITHHOLDINGS
By Scott Shaffer
In a motion for a preliminary injunction filed in federal court today, former IBF bantamweight champion accuses promoter Don King of lying about the tax withholding amounts from his purses for Agbeko's two 2011 fights against Abner Mares. According to Agbeko's lawsuit, Don King Promotions filed a Form 1042-S with the IRS stating that his company withheld $33,649 from Agbeko's purses. However, King allegedly told Agbeko he withheld $57,180 and pocketed the difference.
"Therefore," the lawsuit concludes, "Defendants [Don King and Don King Productions] fraudulently withheld $23,531 in taxes from Agbeko that they have failed to report to the IRS or return to Agbeko." Although the lawsuit was filed in June, Agbeko today asked for a preliminary injunction because King is stalling the 32 year-old Agbeko's career by actively blocking Agbeko from particpating in an IBF elimination bout.
According to Agbeko, King employee Dana Jamison wrote to the IBF and convinced it to cancel an August 7th purse bid for an elimination bout between Agbeko and Britain's Jamie McDonnell.
In Boxingtalk's respectful opinion, the IBF's cancellation of the purse bid was unfair to both Agbeko and McDonnell. Both boxers are now suffering unneccessary delay to their careers. The purse bid should have gone forward with King and any other IBF-registered promoter (including McDonnell's promoter) eligible to bid on the fight. If King were to win the purse bid and Agbeko refused a proper offer to fight, then the IBF could drop him from the rankings.
The delay is pushing Agbeko towards a very long list of boxers whose careers were destroyed or significantly reduced by King. In the words of Agbeko's attorney, David Heim, "If DKP succeed[s] in their strategy of marginalizing Agbeko and their delay deprives Agbeko of the chance to fight, the window may close on this boxer’s career -- not through the mere march of time, but through the calculated actions of DKP... Documents provided by the IBF, therefore, establish that DKP acted to prevent Agbeko from fighting. The IBF attempted twice to place Agbeko in an eliminator fight, where a victory would propel him back to where he was less than a year ago—fighting for the IBF World Championship. First, DKP failed to act with respect to [a proposed Felipe] Orucuta [elimination] fight, and then DKP contacted the IBF to affirmatively end the purse bid on the McDonnell fight citing this case as a 'legal impediment.' Thus, DKP continued its long-term strategy of keeping Agbeko short of money and dependent on his promoter. That DKP’s behavior is intended to starve Agbeko of opportunities is beyond dispute. DKP’s continued pattern of misrepresentation even after this lawsuit began, however, is astonishing."
In order to protect King's rights, Agbeko has even offered to put 25% of his purse in escrow to pay King should Agbeko lose the lawsuit.
According to the complaint Agbeko filed in June to commence the lawsuit, King's huge and improper deductions from Agbeko's purses, left the boxer with less than $20,000 per fight for several world title fights televised on Showtime and Versus. The most egregious claim says King paid Agbeko just $4000 for a 2008 title defense against William Gonzalez that was televised by Versus. Another shocker is the allegation that Agbeko got less than a third of what Abner Mares made in their first 2011 fight even though Agbeko was the defending champion for that bout. Agbeko, now managed by the respected Tom Moran, alleges King did not pay him at all for one fight until Agbeko signed an extension of his promotional contract with King. Agbeko also says he never received the Muhammad Ali Act disclosures that federal law requires all promoters to make. Such disclosures, if truthful, would have revealed how much King was paid by the networks for each fight and allowed Agbeko a chance at meaningful negotiations for future bouts.
The court will not rule on Agbeko's injunction request until October at the earliest. King now gets the chance to file a response and Boxingtalk promises to provide equal coverage of his court filings.