Nonito Donaire got some bad news yesterday when a mediator ruled that his newly signed deal with Golden Boy Promotions was invalid. That ruling, based on a signed 2007 decision between the two companies not to target each other’s fighters, leaves Donaire in the unenviable position of still being signed to a promoter he tried to leave. But let’s not overlook another pending ruling that can potentially save Donaire’s move. If he can prove that he’s fulfilled his current three-year contract with Top Rank he’ll be free to sign with Golden Boy. But how good are his chances?
Top Rank signed Donaire in 2008 to a three-year contract. They claim that the deal also included a one year extension provision. Because Donaire was medically out of action on two occasions, Top Rank claims they exercised the extension which would leave him signed until mid 2012. Donaire’s side is of course arguing his fight against Montiel last month fulfilled the deal and it requirements, making him a free agent.
While I’m not an attorney, it doesn’t look good from my vantage point. If the contract was indeed fulfilled, the mediator would have likely upheld Golden Boy’s new deal. It’s still up to interpretation, but Donaire’s indication that he wants to fight the contract sounds like a long and expensive legal battle.
Let’s say Golden Boy and Top Rank battle back and forth for the next 5-6 months and Golden Boy wins. Who do you think they is going to be responsible for all their legal fees? More than likely it gets subtracted from Donaire’s next fight. Top Rank could possibly do the same if they’re the victor. And most importantly, the longer this goes on the longer Donaire stays out of the ring and not building on his phenomenal knockout of Fernando Montiel.
Boxing needs to have great talents like Nonito Donaire competing consistently. It would be the ultimate cruel irony if it’s not another fighter’s fist that derails his career, but a failed political gamble.