Golden Boy Promotions filed suit Friday in California Superior Court in Los Angeles against WBC featherweight champion Jhonny Gonzalez on the eve of his title defense at the Palms in Las Vegas on Showtime against Gary Russell Jr.
The real target, though, may be Russell Jr.'s manager, the powerful Al Haymon. Haymon is not named in the suit, though in addition to Gonzalez, Golden Boy sued several unnamed defendants and it is believed Haymon is one of them.
According to the complaint, Golden Boy's contract with Gonzalez calls for two years or four fights, but the company is not involved in Saturday's bout. It attempted to make a bout with Russell Jr. last year, it said, but Gonzalez's Mexican promotion, Del Pueblo Promotions, declined and instead took a fight with Jorge Arce on Oct. 4 in Los Mochis, Mexico.
The complaint said Golden Boy believes the unnamed defendants "were responsible in some manner for the acts and transactions hereinafter alleged and are liable to plaintiffs therefore."
The suit claims Golden Boy signed an exclusive promotional deal with Gonzalez in December 2013 and that the terms of that deal forbade him for taking part in any match before the first fight on their deal was held. The Gonzalez-Arce bout in Mexico was held without Golden Boy's involvement.
"Golden Boy’s contract with Jhonny Gonzalez couldn’t be clearer – the company has exclusive promotional rights for two years or four fights, and neither of those milestones has been reached to date,” Golden Boy spokesman Stefan Friedman said. “Furthermore, the motive behind the defendants adamant and longtime refusal to match Gonzalez with Gary Russell Jr. is now plain for the world to see. We will vigorously fight to ensure our contract is enforced."
Golden Boy is seeking damages in the amount of at least $1 million and for the court to declare its promotional contract valid and enforceable. Golden Boy is not seeking an injunction to block Saturday's bout.
Neither Gonzalez nor Haymon could be reached for comment on the suit.