Boxer's Manager Accuses Co., Law Firm VGC Of Racketeering
Law360 (December 21, 2020, 6:31 PM EST) -- The manager of a world champion boxer has sued law firm VGC LLP and a management and promotional company allegedly linked to organized crime, claiming the company was engaged in a racketeering scheme to interfere with his contract with the athlete.
Moses Heredia filed a lawsuit in California federal court against MTK Global Sports Management LLC, VGC, Golden Boy Promotions Inc and other parties on Friday alleging MTK improperly entered into a "marketing advisory" agreement with boxer Joseph Diaz and provided him a $100,000 advance using funds derived from drug trafficking and money laundering.
"Here, MTK has attempted to acquire an interest in Mr. Joseph Diaz, as a professional boxer. MTK provided Mr. Diaz $100,000 in an attempt to fraudulently induce him without proper licensure, contractual or lawful authority," the complaint said.
Heredia alleged in the complaint that MTK Global colluded with the law firm and Golden Boy, which holds the promotional agreement for Diaz, to unlawfully facilitate and negotiate the contract. The complaint said that MTK Global and Golden Boy also scheduled a bout for Diaz in February 2021 without any input or communication with the plaintiffs.
Heredia, the owner of Heredia Boxing Management Inc, said he has a contract with Diaz that started in 2017 and is slated through February 2022. Diaz holds the International Boxing Federation super featherweight title and fought in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Eric Montalvo, an attorney for Heredia, told Law360 that MTK Global has been undertaking a hostile takeover of the boxing industry and scooping up fighters by throwing money at them and not having any profit expectations.
"So the bottom line is that there's a straight-up contract that's been acknowledged by the state of California, the Heredias went and tried to arbitrate this with the fighter earlier, but because of COVID they deferred the decision until next year to do the hearing, and then the organization is refusing to negotiate anything, this is a pattern of practice that this organization gets into," Montalvo said.
According to the complaint, Daniel Kinahan, an Irishman currently based in the United Arab Emirates who founded MTK Global, is a member of Ireland's Kinahan Organized Crime Group and allegedly continues to arrange boxing matches and act in a management capacity for the company.
Heredia stated in the filing that Kinahan fled to the UAE after a boxing match that he promoted in Ireland ended in violence, with masked gunmen firing AK-47s into the crowd and killing one person and injuring others.
The complaint also claims that MTK has approached several U.S. fighters and offered similar "marketing advisor" arrangements.
"MTK sometimes does this with the knowledge and consent of the fighters boxing manager. On other occasions, such as this current dispute, it is a hostile attempt to peel a boxer or sports fighter away from his or her managers," the filing said.
Heredia is seeking multiple unspecified damages, recovery of attorney fees and the costs of bringing the suit against the management company.
Representatives for the other parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Heredia is represented by Rajan O. Dhungana and Eric S. Montalvo of Federal Practice Group.
Attorney information for MTK Global, Golden Boy Promotions and VGC LLP was not immediately available.
The case is Heredia Boxing Management Inc et al. v. MTK Global Sports Management LLC et al., case number 20-cv-2618, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
--Editing by Michael Watanabe.