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Top Rank suing boxer, ‘poachers’

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Steve Marcus

WBA champion Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba cools down after his title fight against IBF featherweight champion Orlando Salido of Mexico in September 2010. Gamboa won the fight by unanimous decision.

Las Vegas-based Top Rank Inc. is suing undefeated featherweight boxing champion Yuriorkis Gamboa after Gamboa backed out of an April 14 fight set for Mandalay Bay.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas last week, Top Rank seeks at least $1 million in damages against Gamboa as well as up to 10 "John Does."

The John Does are individuals associated with one or more rival fight management firms that Top Rank suspects "poached" the fighter and induced him to work with another management company, which ESPN reported might be boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Mayweather Promotions.

In its lawsuit, Top Rank complained it has promoted the featherweight (126-pound maximum) Gamboa for almost three years at a cost of millions of dollars.

The suit says that under Top Rank’s financial commitment and stewardship, Gamboa "is on the verge of stardom" and that it booked him for the April 14 Mandalay Bay fight, to be televised on HBO, against fellow undefeated fighter and former world lightweight champion Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios.

Gamboa later backed out of this deal, Top Rank complained, saying in the lawsuit that if his actions are left unchecked, they "would do untold reputation damage to Top Rank and its relationships with other fighters, promoters and the boxing public."

Top Rank has now lined up another Cuban fighter, World Boxing Association interim lightweight champion Richard Abril, to fight Rios on April 14 at Mandalay Bay.

Gamboa’s attorney, Sekou Gary, is denying the allegations the boxer -- a Cuban 2004 Olympics gold medalist – broke a contract with Top Rank.

"I think that the evidence will show that the promotional contract between Gamboa and Top Rank has expired, and that there clearly was never any agreement to fight the Brandon Rios fight," Gary told RingTV.com.

Gary and Gamboa have not yet filed a response to the Top Rank lawsuit, which was filed by attorneys at the law firms Campbell & Williams in Las Vegas and O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Los Angeles.

The Rios/Abril bout -- and other fights that night at Mandalay Bay -- will be produced by Top Rank and distributed live by HBO on a pay-per-view basis in a telecast that also includes Juan Mánuel Márquez fighting in Mexico City against Sergey Fedchenko, Top Rank announced Saturday.

While HBO won't be producing the fight telecast, its agreement to distribute the show was praised by Top Rank.

"Top Rank owes a great deal to its sponsors, Mandalay Bay and HBO for its continued support of our event," Top Rank President Todd duBoef said in Saturday's statement.

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