Judge tentatively denies halting of Pacquiao bout

Boxing

Audie Attar’s attempt to stop Manny Pacquiao from fighting Errol Spence Jr. has been tentatively denied.

Judge Walter Schwarm, in a tentative ruling on Thursday obtained by ESPN through a court records search, denied Paradigm Sports Management’s effort to obtain a preliminary injunction against Pacquiao that would have halted the Aug. 21 welterweight championship fight in Las Vegas.

The official ruling will be handed down Friday morning in Superior Court of California in Orange County. Schwarm made the tentative ruling on the basis that the “evidence demonstrates a low probability of prevailing” in regard to two of the accusations: breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Paradigm claimed that Pacquiao’s team brokered the fight with PBC and Spence without Attar’s inclusion, despite holding exclusive rights to negotiate the 42-year-old’s next two fights. Paradigm is also suing to recoup a $3.3 million advance it said Pacquiao received with the understanding those next two fights would be secured by Attar. No tentative ruling has been made in regard to the money.

“I would have preferred the tentative decision be favorable to us, but I live to fight another day,” Attar’s attorney, longtime boxing lawyer Judd Burstein, told ESPN.

Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division champion, signed with Attar’s Paradigm Sports Management last year in the hopes of securing a long-discussed boxing match with UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who is managed by Paradigm. (Attar also represents UFC champion Israel Adesanya.)

The fight between Pacquiao and McGregor was being planned for this summer in Dubai, UAE, before McGregor was knocked out by Dustin Poirier in January. Instead, Pacquiao signed to fight Spence in a PBC on Fox PPV at T-Mobile Arena. Spence, the unified 147-pound champion, is ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer. His fight with Pacquiao is the biggest of 2021 thus far.

“Paradigm Sports’ lawsuit against me has no merit,” Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) said in a prepared statement in late June. “I have an absolute right under the agreement with Paradigm to engage in the upcoming bout with Errol Spence. If this frivolous lawsuit continues, I will be proven correct in court.”

Pacquiao is a Senator in the Philippines, where he still resides, and he is gearing up for a potential presidential run in May against incumbent Rodrigo Duterte. The bout against Spence could be the final of Pacquiao’s legendary career, a run that includes wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales. Pacquiao’s loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2015 remains the highest-grossing fight of all time.

“Pacman” hasn’t competed since a July 2019 decision victory over Keith Thurman, Pacquiao’s second fight with PBC.

ESPN’s No. 3 welterweight has been training in Hollywood, California, with his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, in hopes of once again reaching the pinnacle of the sport.

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