Manny Pacquiao is set for his next fight.
Unfortunately for the retired eight-division titlist, it’s a legal battle as he remains the subject of a lawsuit that is due to go to trial beginning March 3. The court date comes nearly two years after Paradigm Sports and its founder/combat sports manager Audie Attar filed a Breach of Contract lawsuit in Orange County Superior Courts in June 2021one month after Pacquiao announced then-scheduled plans for an August 2021 superfight versus Errol Spence Jr.
“Manny’s days of thumbing his nose at our contractual rights are almost at an end,” Attar said in a statement provided to BoxingScene.com. “We have an overwhelming case against him and look forward to justice being served.
“The Court has already entered an Order stating that – due to his consistent violation of court orders – Pacquiao is now deemed to have admitted that he breached his contract with Paradigm and that Paradigm has suffered more than $20 million in damages.”
Paradigm and Attar are represented—for the moment—by powerhouse attorney Judd Burstein, who has represented a who’s who of notable boxers over the past several decades. Among those whom he represented is none other than Pacquiao, whose team filed a Motion to Disqualify on the basis that Burstein previously represented the boxer as the plaintiff in a contractual dispute. Pacquaio’s legal claims that there exists “an actual conflict of interest for which disqualification is necessary.”
A hearing for the motion is scheduled for February 14. The case is assumed to proceed with the March 3 trial date, regardless, with Paradigm confident of scoring a knockout win in the courtroom.
“Once Paradigm wins at trial in March, we will cut off 100% of Manny’s opportunities to earn money in the United States from any source because any revenue he generates will be attached to his judgment,” insisted Attar. “Additionally, Paradigm will aggressively pursue enforcement of its judgment in any foreign country where Manny seeks to fight.
Attar and his company alleged that Pacquaio (62-8-2, 39KOs) failed to make good on business promises that came with a $3.3 million advance. The lawsuit claimed that the two parties agreed to a four-fight deal that was to include a fight between Pacquiao and Mikey Garcia (40-2, 30KOs). Paradigm anticipated such an announcement in spring 2021 when Pacquiao revealed that he had big news to share with his fans about him.
Instead came the surprise reveal that the full-time Senator was going to challenge for Spence’s WBC/IBF welterweight titles atop a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The news prompted Paradigm and Attar to take action to protect their alleged investment. Their actions were met with resistance from Pacquiao’s legal team.
“The complaint filed by Paradigm Sports in California state court on Friday is a frivolous effort to interfere with Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming mega fight, and it can and will fail for numerous reasons,” Dale Kinsella, representing Pacquiao on behalf of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP said in a statement issued to BoxingScene.com. “Moreover, had Manny Pacquiao known that Paradigm Sports appears to have had no intention of fulfilling its contractual obligations, he never would have entered into any relationship with them.”
Added Pacquiao at the time: “If this frivolous lawsuit continues, I will be proven correct in court.”
Paradigm was unsuccessful in blocking the event, though Pacquiao had a change in opponent. Spence was pulled from the card just eleven days prior to the event after a pre-fight medical examination discovered a torn retina. Replacing the unbeaten southpaw was Yordenis Ugas, who earlier in the year was upgraded to WBA ‘Super’ welterweight title after Pacquiao was relieved of the title for failure to defend.
Fate saw the matter ultimately settled in the ring, as Pacquiao was soundly outboxed over twelve rounds in what marked the final fight of his legendary career. He announced his retirement months later along with confirmation of a presidential bid in his native Philippines, though conceding the race after finishing a distant third place after claiming just 6.6% percent of the votes.
“As a boxer and an athlete, I know how to accept defeat,” Pacquiao noted at the time.
In the wake of his retirement and dashed presidential aspirations, Pacquiao has gone the exhibition route to satisfy his boxing itch. He dominated YouTube personality DK Yoo atop an independent PPV event last December, one week prior to his 44th birthday.
Pacquiao then signed with RIZIN Fighting Federation last New Year’s Eve, with plans to fight in another exhibition bout sometime this year in Japan.
The matter was since introduced to the case, described on January 4 by Burstein to Pacquiao’s legal team as “disgraceful” on the basis of assurances made three days prior by Frances P. Brower—Pacquiao’s lead counsel for this case—that “Mr. Pacquiao does not currently have any agreement executed wherein he plans to fight.
“Should Mr. Pacquiao have any intentions of entering into any sort of promotional, managerial or bout agreement, we will provide [Burstein] with notice so that [Paradigm] is not caught off guard or surprised.”
The fact that the other side had to read about it through the media did not at all sit well.
“Whether innocent or not (ie your client lied to you), your blatantly false representation to me now makes it impossible for me to trust any representation you make,” stated Burstein.
The exchange also included the threat of filing an injunctive relief, which was reiterated by the complainant on Wednesday.
“If any promoters, managers, fighters or broadcasting networks are considering entering into an agreement with Manny prior to the trial, they are now on notice,” insisted Attar. “Paradigm will immediately commence an action against them for tortious interference with contract and seek both an injunction and damages.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox