Promoter Says Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Poached Boxer

     NEW YORK (CN) – Rapper Jay-Z’s sports and entertainment company tried to poach a champion boxer from his promoters and offered him $550,000 to skip a televised fight, the promoters claim in state court.
     Star Boxing Inc. and Banner Promotions Inc. sued Roc Nation Sports and other companies owned by music and business mogul Shawn Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z on Wednesday in New York County Supreme Court.
     The lawsuit alleges that Roc Nation’s “intentional interference” with their client, junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, cost the promoters millions in benefits they would have reaped from a Las Vegas prize fight.
     According to the complaint, Andrade’s championship fight was scheduled to be televised on Showtime, but Roc Nation representatives induced the boxer to skip the fight “under false pretenses” by telling him that “Jay-Z personally authorized Roc Nation to pay [him] $550,000” – the same payment he would have received for the fight.
     Roc Nation also told Andrade they would purchase his exclusive promotional agreement from Star Boxing and get him a better deal with HBO once he was their client, the promoters say.
     Roc Nation knew Andrade already had a contract with Star Boxing, the promoters say. Nonetheless, several “minions of Roc Nation,” including “Jay-Z’s closest confidant” induced Andrade to take a meeting at the Roc Nation headquarters “under the guise” of assisting him with marketing and branding coups like clothing line endorsements and advertising sponsorships, the 14-page complaint says.
     During the meeting, Roc Nation representatives allegedly told Andrade that they were looking to extend the arm of their sports management company into boxing, and wanted to be his promoter, the complaint says.
     When Andrade’s team reminded the executives that he was already under contract with a promoter, Roc Nation lawyer Jeffrey Fried, who is also a defendant in the suit, allegedly said that he couldn’t discuss that for “legal reasons,” the promoters say.
     Later, a top Roc Nation executive wrote in an e-mail, “We are going to make this happen! Discussed it with Jay-Z today and he was very happy to hear. Now it’s just getting all the business in order with the existing promoter deal,” a reference to the contract buyout Fried had implied would happen during the meeting, according to the complaint.
     Despite their representations to the contrary, the complaint says, Roc Nation made “no substantive or serious efforts” to purchase Andrade’s contract from the promoters. And Roc Nation’s success in convincing Andrade to skip the fight thwarted Star Boxing’s effort to “consummate a four-fight deal” with Showtime for the boxer, the complaint says.
     The promoters are suing Roc Nation for intentional interference with Andrade’s contract and tortious interference with prospective business relations.
     They are seeking unspecified damages of at least $10 million, claiming that the company’s interference cost them “numerous significant pecuniary and non-pecuniary benefits associated with promoting a world champion fight on a premium cable network,” including ringside sponsorship advertising, ticket sales and broadcast rights, according to the complaint.
     Also named as defendants in the suit are Roc Nation Sports – Roc Nation Boxing LLC and S. Carter Enterprises LLC, both of which are owned by Jay-Z.
     A representative for Roc Nation Sports did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
     Star Boxing and Banner Promotions are represented by Jonathan Kraut of law firm Harfenist Kraut in Long Island.

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