U.S. judge orders Don King to pay $1.5 mln over canceled title fight


By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday ordered boxing promoter Don King to pay more than $1.5 million for breach of contract over a World Boxing Association cruiserweight championship bout that was canceled after one of his fighters failed a drug test.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan decided on the award, plus accrued interest, in favor of Russian boxing promoters Andrey Ryabinskiy and Vladimir Hrunov, who do business as World of Boxing LLC.

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The Russian promoters had sought to recoup more than $1.86 million, including their costs to stage the fight.

King, who Scheindlin had found liable for breach of contract last Oct. 1, claimed he should pay only about $635,000, including $536,000 held in escrow, court papers show.

The case stemmed from the cancellation of the April 25, 2014, fight between Guillermo Jones and Denis Lebedev in Moscow, after Jones tested positive for the diuretic furosemide.

King was not implicated in the failed test. He said damages should have been limited to the cost of ticket refunds, and exclude such items as rent, lodging and transportation.

But the judge disagreed, saying it was King's burden to show that World of Boxing was not entitled to "reliance damages" from his breach of contract because the fight was doomed to be a financial failure. This lacks "common sense," she said.

"This was no small-time bout; it was the cruiserweight world title match," Scheindlin wrote.

Andrew Zinman, a lawyer for King, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Matthew Grant, a lawyer for World of Boxing, declined to comment.

Jones had knocked out Lebedev in a May 2013 title fight, but was stripped of his title after failing another drug test, also for furosemide. The April 2014 fight was the scheduled rematch.

The case is World of Boxing LLC et al v. King et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-03791. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by G Crosse)

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