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Ex-Crawford promoter wins lawsuit vs. Top Rank

The former promoter of welterweight world titleholder Terence Crawford has been awarded a judgment of more than $500,000 in a lawsuit against Top Rank that stemmed from a dispute over the percentage of money he was owed for four Crawford title defenses.

Judge John M. Gerrard of the U.S. federal court for the district of Nebraska ruled on Monday that Top Rank had to pay Maryland’s Chris Middendorf of Middendorf Sports $520,296.87 in addition to prejudgment interest, according to the judgment, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. Top Rank has 30 days to appeal.

Middendorf filed the suit in September 2017 after Top Rank stopped paying him the 8 percent fee he was owed based on language in the contract between Top Rank and Middendorf.

Middendorf became involved with Crawford when Middendorf worked for TKO Boxing Promotions, the fledgling company that signed then-prospect Crawford in 2010. In June 2011, with TKO Boxing Promotions failing, the company negotiated with Top Rank to take over as Crawford’s promoter.

Two weeks later, Top Rank and TKO signed a deal under which TKO would be paid the 8 percent fee based on Crawford’s purses for any title defenses going forward. In July 2011, TKO assigned its rights to Middendorf Sports under a contract drafted by Top Rank.

Middendorf collected his fee for several fights but then sued when he was not paid for Crawford’s junior welterweight title defenses against Viktor Postol, John Molina Jr., Felix Diaz and Julius Indongo.

The judge ruled that even when Top Rank and Crawford entered into a new promotional agreement in 2014 it did not change the terms of Top Rank’s deal with Middendorf.

The judgment did not include Middendorf’s fees for Crawford’s first welterweight title defense against Jose Benavidez Jr. in October or his defense against Amir Khan, which is scheduled for April 20, because they had not taken place before the suit was filed. With Crawford’s purses increasing, it will mean another approximately $730,000 for Middendorf.

During the trial, Middendorf and Top Rank argued over the definition of the terms “purse” and “title defense.” Some of Crawford’s fights included contractual language that called for him to receive a set purse plus a percentage of the gate receipts from Top Rank. The judge ruled that Middendorf was also entitled to 8 percent of Crawford’s take from the gate because the “purse” is the total money paid to the fighter.

Top Rank argued that Crawford’s fights with Postol and Indongo were not “defenses” because they were “unification” fights. But the judge disagreed because a fight can be a title defense and a unification bout at the same time.

A Top Rank spokesman declined to comment to ESPN as did attorney Michael Miller, who represents Middendorf.

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