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Boxing 360 Wins One for the Little Guys

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Last December, I reported that the New York-based promotion Boxing 360, a relative newcomer to the sport, decided to have arbitration over two of its fighters, David Estrada and Angel Hernandez, who had signed with a new firm, Chicago Fight Club, despite having valid contracts still in place. On April 21 and 22, 2011, Boxing 360 finally got its day in court and won. The official ruling states that Boxing 360 is the sole promoter of both men and that should any other promotional entity want to put them on a card, it must first obtain written permission from Boxing 360. 

 

The problem arose late last year when Estrada and Hernandez appeared on a fight card on December 17, 2010 at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. The card was co-promoted by Chicago-based 8 Count Promotions and the newly-formed Chicago Fight Club, headed by Cynthia Tolaymat, wife of Hernandez’s and Estrada’s manager, Wasfi Tolaymat. Despite the protests of Boxing 360, who had signed contracts with both fighters, the card went on as planned. In March of this year, Hernandez would fight again, this time at the Hanging Gardens in River Grove, Illinois. The card was promoted by Chicago Fight Club.


Having already asked that CFC cease and desist from slotting its fighters on the card, Boxing 360 had no choice but to take CFC to court in an arbitration held in New York to decide who had the rights to promote both men.

 

While both men are not of the highest caliber of fighters, Estrada is a contender but one that came up short in shots at top-level opponents; Hernandez simply has seen better days. Regardless, Boxing 360 President Dr. Mario Yagobi felt it was the principle of the matter that was at stake. In heading a young company, he felt it was necessary to let the boxing world know this would not be tolerated.

 

“It’s like going to a new school; the first thing you do is fight somebody. You let everybody you aren’t going to take sh*t from anybody and will hold your ground,” Dr. Yagobi told me in a recent phone conversation. “We spent money in court that wasn’t necessary and took [Chicago Fight Club] to court. [Regardless], whether it was Angel Hernandez and David Estrada or Manny Pacquiao, I would fight the same way.

 

In April of last year, after Estrada defeated undefeated Orlando Lora, all seemed well with the promoter and fighter. I wrote about how Estrada and Yagobi seemed like two peas in a pod, a promoter who saw something in a tough fighter and a fighter who responded well to that belief. However, somewhere along the line, things fell apart.

 

Estrada claimed that he did not receive a WBC belt (a regional title that would have garnered him a higher ranking in that sanctioning body) he was supposed to following the Lora win.

 

Hernandez, who had been in an IBO title fight against TKO Promotions’ Peter Manfredo on May 22, 2010, claimed that both his pre and post-medical expenses were never paid. Dr. Yagobi contends that it was the responsibility of the promoter of that card, TKO, to pay the expenses as the card was not a co-promotion. As I understood after reading it, the arbitration ruled that the promotional party responsible would have to do its best to retrieve that money for Hernandez in order to pay the bills himself. If after 90 days from the date of the arbitration award, the money cannot be recovered, Boxing 360 will become the responsible party.

 

Regarding Estrada’s ranking and belt, Dr. Yagobi contended that he not only had he sent $500 to the WBC to get the belt, he also followed up with multiple emails and calls, only to be told time and again that it was on its way and the rankings would be adjusted accordingly. To date, neither have happened. [Editor’s note: According to the WBC website’s current ratings, Estrada is ranked #34 at 154 pounds and unranked at 147. According to Tolaymat’s Wikipedia bio, Estrada is listed as the WBC’s “Fecombox” welterweight beltholder] Dr. Yagobi also told me that once Estrada decided to ignore their contract together, he stopped trying to get the belt and ranking. Instead, Estrada began a legal proceeding.

 

Shortly after the Lora fight, all seemed well. However, just a few months later, Dr. Yagobi would receive word that Estrada and Hernandez were planning to fight in Chicago. In his opinion, it was due to the fact that Tolaymat was paying both men a men a weekly stipend of $700. As such, the fighters did not feel beholden to fight often, turning down offers and instead sitting idle, according to Yagobi. Tolaymat, in Dr. Yagobi’s opinion, decided to cash in on his investment and promote them himself.

 

The problem he faced was that under the Muhammad Ali Act, a manager is not allowed to also be a promoter. Instead, Tolaymat’s wife, Cynthia, was named President of CFC Promotions and the December co-promotion was put together. Dr. Yagobi contends that it was still Wasfi Tolyamat that was running the show. Dr. Yagobi described to me a program for a CFC card shown during the proceedings.

 

“There were handouts of it that showed CFC Promotions,” Dr. Yagobi told me. “In it, they have Wasfi’s picture cover-to-cover from front-to-end. There is not a single mention of his wife or her picture in it and she is supposed to be the promoter. So the guy was playing games. Once he started a promotional company, he just wanted to take [Estrada and Hernandez] and step on our contract as if it didn’t mean anything. So it was brought out that we had a solid contract.”

 

So how will Boxing 360 proceed with two fighters who tried to work their way out of a contract? Animosity like that cannot be easily overcome.

 

“After this, we will release Angel Hernandez because I think he has had his day as a boxer,” explained Dr. Yagobi, who made it clear that move would not be made out of animosity. “And especially in his last two fights, he has been hurt. He, in no way, shape or form, should be fighting. I definitely don’t want to be…I love the guy. Both guys are very nice guys; they are respectful as fighters and as human beings. They are great fighters with great heart. I definitely don’t want to be a part of Angel getting hurt in the ring, so we are going to release him. I wish him all the best.”

 

As for Estrada?

 

“David Estrada, we will represent and if he does not want to fight, his contract will go on suspension until he fights,” said Dr. Yagobi. “We want the best for him. We want to get him fights but they wanted to play games and I don’t stand for it. That is my contract to make. They hold us to the contract and we hold the fighter to the contract. It works both ways. We gave him a TV shot on ESPN and he was successful and his career was rejuvenated then all of sudden, he is saying, ‘Let me do something else. Let me get out of the contract’ and made it look like it wasn’t even there. He beat a 26-0 guy in Lora and people started talking about him and he started getting cute.”

 

In the end, this won’t seem like Top Rank and Golden Boy fighting over Manny Pacquiao or Nonito Donaire. Hernandez has seen his time as a fighter come and go while Estrada probably has one last run in him but may never reach a world title shot again. However, to Dr. Yagobi, setting this precedent for his company was what getting this ruling was all about. Despite being turned down for injunctive relief by the court and having to pay their own legal bills in the case (per the arbitration ruling, Item Eight), Dr. Yagobi and Boxing 360’s victory is significant in that they showed they are going to do whatever it takes to protect their interests pertaining to both their fighters and rights as a company.

 

“We told the arbitrator that the purpose I did this, number one, we have a legal contract,” explained Dr. Yagobi. “I wanted to uphold it. I wanted to show everybody, especially in the boxing industry, that Boxing 360 will fight for their fighters and we will fight for our rights. We let everybody in the industry know that we are fighters as well. We will fight for what we believe. That is the statement I wanted to make. For these two guys, it was not worth spending the money to go to court and arbitrating and everything. I was advised to do it but I said no. It is for principle only.

 

“The bottom line is Boxing 360 are the promoters of Angel Hernandez and David Estrada,” continued Dr. Yagobi, “and our contract runs to February of 2013 and that’s it. We are their promoters. If they decide to fight, we are awarded 20% of whatever the fight is. I wanted everyone to know we are their promoters and if they want to get into any kind of fight, the promoters of the event have to contact us. That’s it. Bottom line.”

 

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.



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