Oquendo Reportedly Passes on Cuellar Title Fight for Potentially Illegal Signing W/Golden Boy

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Jonathan OquendoThere were many boxing insiders surprised to read about Golden Boy Promotion’s signing of Jonathan Oquendo a couple days ago, but that is exactly what happened. The curiosity stems from the fact that Oquendo, a mere 10 days before the announcement, pulled off the mild upset against Jhonny Gonzalez on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s swan song against Andre Berto. The bout, which opened up the PPV telecast, was a tremendous affair and certainly did its job to kick off the night for what would end up being an incredible undercard headlined by one of the all-time bad PPV main attractions.

Now, there is little surprise that a fighter like Oquendo would garner enough attention from a major promoter to be signed, especially coming off the biggest win of his career, and pulling it off in such an exciting fashion. However, with Al Haymon representing Jhonny Gonzalez, and the bout appearing to be another one of Gonzalez’s rebound fights on his road back to the top since losing his featherweight title to Gary Russell Jr. earlier this year, you’d think that Haymon would’ve wanted to secure something for Oquendo and keep that win in his stable somehow.

But Oquendo is not represented by Haymon. Therefore, Golden Boy saw it as an opportunity to swoop in and add a very talented Puerto Rican fighter with momentum on his side.

However, PR Best Boxing Promotions is taking issue with the Golden Boy singing. In fact, PRBBP is claiming that they control the promotional rights to Oquendo and were surprised to learn that he’d signed with Golden Boy considering they were already working towards securing him a title shot before the year’s end.

The president of PRBBP Ivan Rivera issued a statement yesterday claiming that a valid contract with Oquendo would force the promotional company to take legal action against GBP.

“We learned the news from the press and were surprised because we have been working with Jonathan for a while. He fought as a PRBBP boxer only 11 days ago, and we have the contract for his world title fight, which will be on December 5th against the Argentine Jesus Cuellar, the WBA featherweight champion, in Brooklyn, New York,” Ivan Rivera said.

Convenient that there is suddenly a title shot at stake, but perhaps Oquendo knew about it and left anyway, which seems unlikely unless GBP offered up better financial terms and/or some sort of big fight guarantees.

Since Al Haymon’s departure from Golden Boy and the emergence of his PBC series, there has only been an instance or two of a fighter with ties to Haymon being poached by Golden Boy. There is nothing Haymon could do about Oquendo directly because he is not a promoter. But, of course, any promoter with a valid fighter contract would not need any guidance from Haymon to pursue the matter legally.

However, the date of Oquendo’s theoretical title shot is on a PBC undercard – Peter Quillin-Danny Jacobs are set to fight December 5th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – and I’m assuming that such a high profile fight on the undercard, like the one between Cuellar and Oquendo, would end up making it to TV, presumably the co-feature. Keep in mind that Cuellar’s last outing against Vic Darchinyan – a fight Cuellar won by 8th round KO – was the televised co-feature on the Robert Guerrero-Aaron Martinez back in June.

Again, PRBBP does not need Haymon’s say-so to take legal action against a promotional company if said company has indeed signed a fighter under a valid contract with another company. That said, I’m sure Haymon is plenty concerned with a perceived televised fight on a significant PBC card.

The president of PRBBP went on to say, “We don’t know the details of the contract he (Oquendo) signed with GBP, but he has a valid contract with us, so we have already met with our lawyers and will take legal action against any promoter, manager or whoever has interfered with our contract by inducing Oquendo to sign this agreement. This includes a claim for injunctive relief and damages in Federal Court.”

The vice-president of PRBBP, Peter Rivera, commented on the issue and mentioned a similar and active issue that Golden Boy Promotions is currently dealing with, which is the promotional status of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, GBP biggest star. Rivera reminded everyone that GBP is dealing with “an interference case in court” dealing with All Star Boxing’s claims that they had a preexisting promotional contract with Canelo before Golden Boy took over the reins in his career. That case has not been resolved.

Rivera said that Golden Boy is familiar with Oquendo’s status with PRBBP.

“We’ve always had a good working relationship with them (Golden Boy), and they know that Jonathan has a valid and enforceable contract with us.”

There is no telling whether or not the Cuellar fight was bait for Oquendo to return to PRBBP without legal ramifications. Regardless, there is a lot to consider, and the agenda for all involved is not clear, but this case could be very important in setting the tone for future instances like this one between Golden Boy and Haymon associated promoters.