Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports has just been hit with a lawsuit from Demetrius Andrade's co-promoters, Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions and Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing. The lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court, alleges that Roc Nation Sports, in collusion with Washington D.C. attorney and Roc Nation consultant Jeff Fried, intentionally interfered with their exclusive contract with Andrade after they tried to sign him to a promotional deal while they knew he was still under contract. In my legal experience, we refer to this sort of thing as "tortious interference."
As written in the lawsuit, "Roc Nation and Fried acted willfully, maliciously, recklessly, wantonly and with intent to injure Star Boxing and Banner Promotions." Banner Promotions and Star Boxing are asking for $20M in damages, while also seeking punitive action. A Roc Nation Sports spokesman refused to comment on the allegations at this time.
The lawsuit accuses Roc Nation of offering Andrade $550,000 to not participate in a Showtime fight that Pellulo and DeGuardia had negotiated for him. That fight would be the infamous Jermell Charlo bout that was supposed to take place last December. Andrade turned down the offer to fight Charlo, which would've been the first of a three-fight contract with Showtime, citing an insufficient purse that would've also been a career-high payday. So not only did Andrade not take the Showtime deal, he also reportedly didn't wind up getting any money from Roc Nation neither, and still doesn't have a fight scheduled. In fact, he's been on the sidelines for so long that the WBO is already primed to strip him of his title.
"Roc Nation's promise to Andrade was made under false pretenses, namely, that Roc Nation was negotiating to purchase Andrade's contract from the promoters and thereafter would negotiate a more lucrative bout for Andrade on HBO," the lawsuit claims. "Ultimately, Andrade agreed to Roc Nation's false inducements and spurned the professional boxing match the promoters had negotiated with Showtime."
Cited in the lawsuit is an alleged Sept. 23, 2014 meeting that Andrade, his father, and manager Ed Farris attended at Roc Nation offices. According to the suit, this meeting was held "under the guise of offering Andrade assistance in marketing and branding," but at the meeting Roc Nation executives revealed their true intentions of wanting to sign him to a promotional deal as well.
So, as the story goes, after Andrade and his manager informed Roc Nation that they were still under promotional contract, Jeff Fried informed them that Roc Nation would inquire with Banner Promotions and Star boxing about buying out his contract for up to $2M. Roc Nation's plans, according to the suit, were to finalize the acquisition of Andrade's promotional rights before the end of 2014. However, in October 2014, Roc Nation learned that Andrade had an offer on the table for the Charlo fight - something they allegedly campaigned to undermine.
Roc Nation and Fried supposedly "embarked on a campaign to convince Farris and Andrade that Andrade should not sign the agreement negotiated by Star Boxing and Banner Promotions with Showtime. Specifically, Fried told Farris that Roc Nation and Jay Z did not want Andrade to fight on the Showtime card and that Roc Nation, even though it did not promote Andrade, had already been negotiating with senior HBO executives about Andrade fighting on their network." The suit further alleges that Fried assured Andrade once Roc Nation became his promoter, they would secure a better deal with HBO - which included lesser competition for more money.
As we know, Andrade did in fact go ahead and turn down the Showtime deal and the Charlo fight, but "contrary to Roc Nation and/or Fried's promises, no substantive or serious efforts were made to purchase Andrade's exclusive promotional rights from Star Boxing and Banner Promotions."
So now Andrade is still with Banner Promotions/Star Boxing (who are said to have repaired their working relationship with Andrade). But he's still a man without a fight date - and soon he'll be a man without a title either...