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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Actor Says Manny Pacquiao Extorted Him

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao extorted and threatened a man to avoid paying him $8.6 million for helping to set up his title fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the waiter-actor claims in court.

Gabriel Rueda aka Gabriel Salvador sued Pacquiao, his trainer Freddie Roach, CBS, and Showtime Entertainment on Wednesday in Superior Court. He also sued Keith M. Davidson, an attorney whom he describes as a go-between in his dispute with Pacquiao.

Rueda, whose acting name is Gabriel Salvador, says he waited on CBS President Les Moonves while working at Craig's restaurant in West Hollywood and told Moonves he could introduce him to Freddie Roach.

Moonves is a regular at the restaurant, and Rueda says they two bonded over their mutual love of boxing.

Rueda's son trained at a Hollywood gym owned by Roach. Rueda says in the lawsuit that he arranged a meeting between Roach and Moonves, with an agreement that he would get 2 percent of gross fight proceeds paid to CBS, Showtime Network, Pacquiao and Roach.

Rueda says he gave CBS and its subsidiary Showtime Network "an 'in' to the most coveted and lucrative matchup in boxing history by introducing Moonves to Manny Pacquiao's trainer and confidant Freddie Roach."

He claims he "helped Roach and Pacquiao land the biggest payday of their careers," but when he asked for his 2 percent fee, they threatened to destroy his acting career and have him fired from his job at the restaurant.

"Roach and Pacquiao's corrupt advisors would rather resort to coercion than pay," Rueda says in the complaint.

Mayweather beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision on May 2, 2015. The fight proved controversial after fans learned Pacquiao had badly injured his shoulder days before the fight, leading many to say it never should have been happened but was held only due to the enormous amount of money tied to it.

The fight generated more than $430 million for Pacquiao and CBS, and Rueda says at least five major media outlets reported the fight would not have happened but for Rueda's efforts.

Mayweather had vowed never to negotiate with Pacquiao's manager Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing, but Rueda says Roach's eyes lit up when he asked if he would be willing to meet with Moonves to discuss a Pacquiao-Mayweather title fight.

Rueda says Roach told him he would make a lot of money for helping make the fight happen, and that Roach and Moonves both agreed that he would earn a finder's fee of 2 percent of the gross proceeds earned by Pacquiao, Roach, CBS and Showtime.

After the fight, Moonves claimed CBS and Showtime did not make money on the fight, despite reporting a significant revenue increase for the quarter largely, driven by fight proceeds, Rueda says.

He says Keith Davidson, an attorney for Pacquiao and Roach, offered to pay him $50,000 "tax-free" to settle the finder's fee, and get a talent agency to find him more acting jobs, and that if he did not accept the offer and sign a release, he would lose his job at Craig's and "never work as an actor in this town again."

Rueda says he called his boss at the restaurant and confirmed that Davidson contacted Craig's, and that the restaurant would fire him if he did not accept the offer, because it did not want to lose Moonves as a regular customer.

He says Roach also sent thugs from his gym to harass and intimidate him, slash his car tires, make homophobic slurs, and engage in other threatening and intimidating behavior, which made him fear for his safety and ability to provide for his family.

Rueda says he filed a complaint with Los Angeles police, and that police involvement likely is the only reason he still has his job at Craig's.

"He's just a little guy, a waiter and an actor, dealing with people making $60 million a year and corporations who don't care about him," Rueda's attorney Amman Khan told Courthouse News.

Even when no contract is in place, California law requires that a finder's fee be paid when someone arranges a deal that results in financial gain, Khan said.

Although Moonves made promises to Rueda, Khan said he is not a defendant, because he did not make money from the fight, but CBS and Showtime did, as did Pacquiao and Roach.

Rueda seeks $8.6 million, and punitive damages, for fraud, extortion, unjust enrichment, emotional distress, breach of contract, and common count for work, labor and services.

Rueda has acted in several television productions, mostly in supporting roles, according to industry website imdb.

A spokesman for CBS had no comment Thursday.

Pacquiao's and Roach's publicist Fred Sternburg did not return a call seeking comment.

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