Gomez seeking $2 million in damages

Updated: July 15, 2004, 3:02 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- A former world cruiserweight champion has filed a lawsuit against Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing, alleging the promoter and two other defendants are keeping him from securing fight contracts.

Juan Carlos Gomez seeks at least $2 million in damages, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Miami. He claims Leonard's company, along with Team Freedom Promotions and its founder Leon Margules, keeps him from "making a living'' by insisting they still have a valid contract to promote him.

In the suit, Gomez, a 30-year-old Cuban native, contends that the contract he had with those promoters was terminated May 18, yet that the defendants continue to deter other promoters from doing business with him and have forced the cancellation of at least one scheduled bout in which he would have earned $430,000.

Gomez (37-0, 31 KOs) is ranked No. 2 in the heavyweight division by the WBC and No. 6 by the IBF. He has not fought since beating Sinan Samil Sam in a 10-round cruiserweight fight last Sept. 27. It was his only fight since signing with the promoting group in April 2003, according to the lawsuit.

"Plaintiff's opportunities at his current age and ranking are unique, and limited in duration, and defendants' conduct is causing irreparable harm,'' Gomez's Miami-based attorney, Robert J. Beccera, asserts in the lawsuit.

A call placed to Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing in Los Angeles was not immediately returned, nor was an after-hours message left at Margules' office in Pembroke Pines.

Gomez won more than 250 amateur fights for Cuba before defecting to Germany and turning pro in 1995. He won the WBC cruiserweight belt in February 1998, beating Argentina's Marcelo Dominguez, and defended his title 10 times before vacating it, moving up in weight and signing with Leonard.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press