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David Benavidez bails on Top Rank, returns $250k signing bonus

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Benavidez apparently had a change of heart and will continue to fight under promoter Sampson Lewkowicz.

David Benavidez v Ronald Gavril Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez appears to have thought better of signing with Top Rank as the fighter returned a $250,000 signing bonus to the company yesterday after reaching a deal with Top Rank just two weeks ago. With the move Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) will continue to fight under the banner of Sampson Lewkowicz and Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

Lewkowicz was reportedly infuriated when he first learned of Benavidez’s attempted defection as he claims he still had him under contract through 2021. He would go on to sue Top Rank, Bob Arum, and Billy Keane — who brokered the deal — for interfering with his contract. But after Benavidez came to Arum and told him of his change of heart and returned the signing bonus, he decided to let go of the issue without a fuss.

Via ESPN:

At this stage, particularly carrying the ESPN banner with our deal, we are not going resort to litigation when we don’t have to,” Arum said. “We’re not going to bully a kid. He said he made a mistake when he signed with us. You let him go. We don’t need an unhappy kid. David, from what I know, is a lovely kid. He’s a little confused but a lovely kid. He’s not a wise guy. He’s a nice young man who said he made a mistake. OK. We’re not going to hold anything against him. He decided to stay with Sampson and I don’t need the hassle. I don’t hold anything against the kid.”

Lewkowicz maintains that Benavidez was misled by Billy Keane, who he says also tried to pull the same thing with an attempted poach of Sergio Martinez years back. But with Benavidez back in the fold and Top Rank not interested in making a fight of it, Lewkowicz says he’ll drop his lawsuit against the company. Lewkowicz does say, however, that he’ll still sue Keane individually in order to teach him a lesson.