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Boxer Canelo Alvarez dodges a jab from ex-promoters after court ruling over millions

Canelo Alvarez strikes a pugilistic pose during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Las Vegas.
Canelo Alvarez strikes a pugilistic pose during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Las Vegas. AP

Star pro boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez won’t have to pay an $8.5 million jury award to All Star Boxing, a promotions company that represented him for 15 months, a Miami appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Alvarez, who is training for a highly anticipated rematch against rival Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin on Saturday, may still have to pay damages to his former promoters.

But the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that $8.5 million amount decided on by the jury was based on “speculation.” The case now goes back to the initial trial judge to figure out a new amount.

“This was a unanimous decision from the appeals court, and also pretty much of a knockout,” said Joel Perwin, one of the lawyers representing Alvarez.

All Star promoted Alvarez when he was about 18 years old and just starting out, from September 2008 to December 2009. During that time, the company landed him nine fights, publicity on television and in boxing publications, and a visa to travel to the United States from Mexico.

It paid for some of Alvarez’s expenses, including athletic shoes and equipment, airfares and referee fees. The company — which did not have a signed contract with the rising boxer — also let him keep any money that it would have been entitled to as promoter.

“All Star viewed Alvarez as an investment,” according to the opinion published Wednesday. “It assumed that if Alvarez reached the top, All Star would then obtain a fair return on investment by sharing the earnings generated by Alvarez’s fights.”

But in January 2010, Alvarez abruptly left and signed an exclusive promotional agreement with a different promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, the company founded by former world champion Oscar de la Hoya. Golden Boy organizes fights for ESPN and FOX, and arranges fights at venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York. It gave Alvarez a $1 million signing bonus.

All Star Boxing sued Alvarez for “enriching unjustly” from the company’s services. It also sued Golden Boy Promotions.

In 2016, a Miami-Dade civil jury rejected claims against Golden Boy, but ordered Alvarez to pay $8.5 million in punitive damages.

The appeals court ruled the company did not present evidence that would justify a specific amount for damages. Instead, jurors relied on assumptions about how much Alvarez might earn were he to fight twice a year without getting injured or disqualified for the rest of his career, the court said.

Perwin, the lawyer for Alvarez, said Wednesday that the boxer will likely only have to pay back about $50,000 for the shoes, airfare and other out-of-pocket expenses documented by All Star.

He said it’s “very well accepted” in Florida law that you only get one chance to prove damages. Lawyers for All Star could not be reached immediately for comment.

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