Flyweight titlist Donaire, junior middleweight Kirkland fire promoter

Updated: June 20, 2008, 4:52 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Two of boxing's brightest young stars, flyweight titleholder Nonito Donaire and rising junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland, have severed ties with promoter Gary Shaw because they claim he breached their promotional contracts, manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com.

Donaire declared his free agency last week while Kirkland, co-managed with Dunkin by attorney Michael Miller, fired Shaw this week.

Both fighters sent the New Jersey-based promoter legal letters informing him that they had terminated their relationship because he was behind on the number of fights he owed them and had failed to properly disclose revenue from previous fights.

"[Shaw] was behind on fights for both of them and they were not staying busy," Dunkin said. "One is a world champion and one is a very hot prospect and they need to fight. We really need to get these kids somewhere to keep them more active. They both wanted to fight and they were both unhappy."

According to the letter Miller sent Shaw on Kirkland's behalf, which was obtained by ESPN.com, Kirkland signed a promotional agreement with Gary Shaw Productions on Feb. 27, 2006.

Under the contract, Shaw "was to provide James Kirkland with a minimum of five bouts per year for each of the first two contract years," Miller wrote in the letter. "In fact, GSP did not do so; for the second contract year it provided only three bouts. This had the effect of impairing Mr. Kirkland's career. This was brought to your attention by my letter of March 10, 2008. Absolutely no steps were taken to cure.

"We also point out that GSP is in violation of the Muhammad Ali Act in that it has provided no revenue statements to Mr. Kirkland as required by the Act and under your own contract. Please be advised that as a result of these breaches and actions Mr. Kirkland hereby terminates the contract."

Dunkin said a similar letter was sent to Shaw on Donaire's behalf.

Donaire (19-0-1, 12 KOs) won a 112-pound world title via crushing fifth-round knockout of Vic Darchinyan on July 7, 2007, and has fought just once since, an eighth-round TKO of Luis Maldonado in a Dec. 1 title defense.

The 25-year-old Filipino, who is based in California, signed with Shaw to get a shot at Darchinyan, whom he also promotes. Dunkin said the issues with Shaw came to a head when he was being considered for an Aug. 2 Showtime card that will be headlined by Darchinyan, who will challenge Dimitri Kirilov for a junior bantamweight title. Donaire didn't want to fight on the undercard of a fighter he had knocked out.

A fight between Donaire and Hussein Hussein had been planned in Dubai in April but postponed before being canceled.

Shaw told ESPN.com that he had turned the matter over to his attorney but expressed disappointment in the fighters' decisions.

"I'm disappointed that Nonito doesn't want to be with me or his management doesn't think he should be with me, but I cooperated when he wanted to fight in Dubai with a Filipino promoter," Shaw said. "The fact that the fight was postponed for three months and then fell out, I can't take responsibility. And I had gotten him a spot on the Kirilov-Darchinyan card, which was not my card. It is [Kirilov promoter] Cedric Kushner's card."

Kirkland (22-0, 19 KOs), a 24-year-old from Austin, Texas, had become a staple of Shaw's "ShoBox" cards on Showtime before making a tremendous splash by scoring a first-round knockout of Eromosele Albert in his May 17 HBO debut.

Kirkland was very unhappy that he was paid only $50,000 for a featured HBO fight and with the way Shaw treated him before the fight, Dunkin said.

"I think I've done a tremendous job for James Kirkland and the team," Shaw said. "I've had him on Showtime and HBO."

Shaw said he had been working on another HBO fight for him on Oct. 4.

Dunkin said he was talking to promoters about signing the fighters. If there are no legal issues, Top Rank has expressed interest in Donaire, Dunkin said.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.