Originally created 11/05/02

Jury: Arum not liable for Chavez's defection from King camp



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A jury refused Monday to award any money to Don King in his fight with rival promoter Bob Arum over rights to boxer Julio Cesar Chavez.

The six-member jury deliberated for three hours before rejecting claims that Arum's Las Vegas-based Top Rank Inc. interfered with three agreements between King and Chavez.

Attorneys for King asked in closing arguments Monday that the jury find Arum liable for stealing Chavez and award King $8 million in damages.

"I'm very happy with the jury verdict, obviously," Arum said.

King smiled when the verdict was read but was speechless only briefly.

King insisted Arum interfered with his fighter and said, "He'll be less inclined to do it again. You just have to do what you have to do." He went on to promote two of his upcoming heavyweight fights.

King's attorney, Alvin Davis, said, "I have to study it, but I think we finished second."

The jurors left without commenting.

King had claimed Arum interfered with two of his 1998 contracts and broke a 1996 agreement on joint ventures with Chavez.

"Mr. Arum knows about these contracts. There's no question," Davis said in closing arguments. "His own contracts don't mean anything to him anymore than our contracts. Contracts don't get in his way."

Michael Olin, Arum's attorney, blamed King's mismanagement of Chavez for turning the fighter against his longtime promoter.

"It is Mr. King who breached his contracts with Julio Cesar Chavez and Mr. Chavez was absolutely free to do anything he wanted with Mr. Arum," Olin said

Davis told jurors in opening statements last month that he was seeking $14 million to $16 million. Asked why his final request was lower, he said, "I thought we'd be better off with a smaller demand."

Chavez fought for Top Rank in June and September 1998, winning a tuneup fight and losing to Arum's fighter, Oscar De La Hoya.

King claimed he lost profits from five possible bouts when Chavez could have been fighting for him.

Chavez initiated the lawsuit and King countersued him and Arum. Chavez returned to King and the promoter's legal claim against the fighter is on hold.

King paid $50 million in purses to Chavez, but claims the fighter now owes him more than $300,000 from advances and loans.

Chavez, 40, won six championships in three weight classes, most recently in 1996, and has been idle for a year.