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Document questioned in Pacquiao lawsuit

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Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 9:00 am

McALLEN — The validity of a key document is at question in a bare-knuckle fight over whether the boxer Manny Pacquiao reneged on a promotional appearance in McAllen.

Local boxing promoters sued Pacquiao for more than $1 million in 2010 after he failed to show up to several events in McAllen that September where he was scheduled to meet fans and sign autographs. While questions about whether Pacquiao committed to the promotion were originally at the center of the lawsuit, the arguments have instead shifted in the past year over to whether the promoter had grounds to sue.

The promoters’ attorneys say a document that surfaced in July 2012 definitively prove their client has standing. But Pacquiao’s attorneys claim the document was fraudulently backdated to prove that point after they raised that question.

“There’s powerful evidence that the document didn’t exist” at the time the case was filed, said Pacquiao’s attorney, David Marroso. “These witnesses couldn’t get the story straight, they couldn’t get the details corrects and their testimony conflicts with their own statements.”

Pacquiao was sued in November 2010 by Imperial ED Promotions after he didn’t show up to a series of promotional events at the then-State Farm Arena in Hidalgo that coincided with the bicentennial of Mexican independence. Attorneys for Pacquiao and the promoters both said that Pacquiao agreed to a $200,000 offer to make the appearances.

While the pugilist accepted an initial $100,000 as payment for the appearance, the second $100,000 was never paid out to Pacquiao.

A promoter who arranged the fight, Edmundo Lozano, said he tried to confirm the agreement with Pacquiao by showing up to Pacquiao’s Sept. 3, 2010 news conference at Cowboys Stadium where he was discussing an upcoming fight with Antonio Margarito. But after Pacquiao and his trainer told Lozano they were unaware of the event, Lozano did not make the second $100,000 payment.

After he failed to reschedule Pacquiao’s appearance, Lozano sued the boxer for more than $1 million in damages.

But because the lawsuit was filed by Imperial ED Promotions, Pacquiao’s attorneys questioned whether the company lacked legal standing. Although Lozano served as a manager for Imperial ED, the agreement originally signed by Pacquiao was with Lozano as an individual.

When Pacquiao’s attorneys pushed for dismissal on the technicality, the document that addressed Imperial ED’s standing surfaced last summer. The document transfers all of Lozano’s rights and obligations in the original agreement he signed with Pacquiao to Imperial ED.

But Pacquiao’s attorney said the contradictions in their original testimony — and the fact that the document surfaced last summer, nearly two years after the case was filed — required the court to “ignore common sense.”

Pacquiao hired a document analyst who dated its ink and determined it couldn’t have been signed in 2010. On Friday, Imperial ED’s attorneys presented their own forensic expert who claimed that the process the other expert used to produce that estimate was faulty.

Pacquiao’s attorneys and U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa instead questioned one of the promoters on how the document in question was drafted three years ago.

Salvador Avilez, an investor in Imperial ED, testified Friday that he largely drew up the document on his own using other drafts he found on Google. But Hinojosa inquired how Avilez managed to understand the complex legal language when he required an interpreter on the stand.

Avilez also testified that he couldn’t produce the computer or printer he used for the document because he gave it away to someone.

Hinojosa, who previously told the promoters that he had “serious questions” about a document that “mysteriously appeared” in the case, said the evidence didn’t add up.

“Isn’t the truth … there was a mistake here” on how the lawsuit was filed, Hinojosa asked the plaintiffs. “But after that, there was a cover-up where we’re going to produce this document that was created afterward?”

The promoters’ attorney, Tom Coleman, instead argued that the document was valid. He told the court that it was not initially produced because the question about Imperial ED’s legal standing was never raised.

Coleman said that any contradictions in the promoters’ testimony were because they were talking about events that happened three years ago.

“This was an uncontested issue that we hadn’t thought about,” Coleman said about Imperial ED’s legal standing.

Hinojosa will issue a ruling on whether the case can proceed on March 19.

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Jared Janes covers Hidalgo County government, Edinburg and legislative issues for The Monitor. He can be reached at jjanes@themonitor.com and (956) 683-4424 or on Twitter, @moncounty.

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