Boxer Manny Pacquiao filed a cross-complaint Friday in a California state court against Paradigm Sports Management, alleging breach of conduct, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, among other things.
Paradigm was founded in 2009 by Audie Attar and manages former UFC champion Conor McGregor.
Pacquiao signed with Paradigm because he said Paradigm promised to arrange a fight with McGregor in December 2020 or January 2021, and promised Pacquiao eight endorsements that were allegedly already lined up.
But the fight with McGregor did not occur because McGregor was contractually obligated to fight Dustin Poirier in a UFC bout on Jan. 26, 2021. They had a rematch on July 10. Poirier won both fights by knockout.
Paradigm attorney Judd Burstein told Yahoo Sports that nowhere in the contract Pacquiao signed with Paradigm does it mention McGregor. The contract says there are no oral promises and everything must be in writing.
“Show me anywhere where Conor McGregor is mentioned in that contract,” Burstein said.
Pacquiao’s complaint, obtained by Yahoo Sports, states, “In reality, PSM never intended to arrange a bout between Pacquiao and McGregor. PSM never secured any of the many endorsement deals it claimed were ‘lined up.’ And PSM never intended to advance the full USD $4 million to Pacquiao."
Burstein said Pacquiao’s complaint was full of lies and mistruths.
“This could be a story in communist Russia in terms of what the facts are,” Burstein told Yahoo Sports. Burstein said Pacquiao has taken $3.3 million from Paradigm and isn’t offering to pay it back.
“The bottom line is, they can’t get around the fact that [Pacquiao] has $3.3 million and he thinks he’s entitled to keep it. It’s outrageous. He screwed us up completely with these financiers. But after all of that, he kept changing his mind and then he wanted $5 million [from Paradigm] regardless if he ever fought.”
The suit also claims that Paradigm had a contractual relationship with Arnold Vegafria, a citizen of the Philippines who serves as the boxer’s business manager. It referred to Paradigm’s deal with Vegafria as “secret” and said Pacquiao would not have signed with Paradigm had he known of its relationship with Vegafria.
“While negotiating with Pacquiao in September and October 2020, PSM was in a pre-existing contractual relationship with … Vegafria, pursuant to which Vegafria would stand to financially benefit if he was able to convince Pacquiao to sign an agreement with PSM, which was favorable to PSM,” the suit alleges.
Elsewhere in the suit, it alleges “… Pacquiao’s business manager and would-be boxing manager made a deal behind Pacquiao’s back to profit off of him — yet another example of unscrupulous sports managers serving their own interests over the interests of their clients.”
Burstein, though, disputed Pacquiao’s contention regarding Vegafria.
“Putting aside everything else with Arnold, there is no evidence of an illicit agreement,” Burstein said. “And under California law, it’s going to be very difficult to make that claim.
Pacquiao attorney Dale Kinsella issued a statement blasting the suit Paradigm filed earlier this year against Pacquiao. He said he expects Pacquiao to collect damages at trial.
“Manny Pacquiao’s cross-complaint filed today reveals in detail the complete sham nature of Paradigm’s complaint,” Kinsella said in his statement. “We look forward to exposing Paradigm’s conduct in front of a jury and recovering both general and punitive damages.”
Attar did not respond to a message from Yahoo Sports.
Pacquiao’s suit alleges that Paradigm offered him a $4 million purse advance that it has never fully paid.
Additionally, the suit states that if Pacquiao had known McGregor was negotiating to fight Poirier in January 2020, which he ultimately did, Pacquiao would not have signed the deal with Paradigm.
“Pacquiao’s primary motivation for signing with PSM was their purported ability to set a very lucrative ‘mega-fight’ between Pacquiao and PSM’s star client, McGregor,” the suit reads. “But McGregor’s obligations to fight Poirier twice before ever getting a chance to fight Pacquiao would have made the arrangement far too risky for Pacquiao to agree to. Due to his advanced age and political career, Pacquiao’s window of opportunity for scheduling lucrative bouts was closing, and he could not afford to wait to schedule a fight against McGregor after two bouts with Poirier.”
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