Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King thought he had seen it all in this sport, but this is a first for the legendary sports figure.
King found himself being sued by his own fighter, super welterweight number one challenger Charles Hatley two weeks before his title shot on April 22 against the WBC Super Welterweight Champion Jermell Charlo.
“I don’t think this has ever happened to me in all the years I’ve been in boxing,” said King. “Charles Hatley comes to me with his lawyer, manager and father and asks me to help him get a title shot. He signs a promoter’s contract and I turn around and land him a mandatory championship fight against Charlo.
“Charles is the same fighter that couldn’t get a title shot from his previous promoter and I turn around after he comes to me to help him and I deliver a title shot in his first fight back. Here’s a fighter who has won nine straight fights and has a great lifetime record of 26-1-1. I deliver him a title shot and he delivers me papers.”
King made a deal with co-promoter/manager Al Haymon after Hatley signed a promotional agreement and then followed that up by signing bout agreement.
“This is the craziest thing I have ever seen. Charles is getting ready for the fight and he changes lawyers and this guy has Charles sue me after all that I have done for him and his father.”
Said Hatley’s manager Lee Holliday of Holliday Boxing: “Don King has been very transparent in his negotiations with Charles Hatley. I was and am very disappointed, to say the least, regarding the lawsuit. This is an unprecedented situation two weeks before the fight. It’s certainly totally unfair to a promoter who has work very hard to get us this world title shot. It’s totally unfair to a fighter who should be thinking about nothing but the fight of his life.”
Hatley’s former attorney, La Coulton J. Walls, praised King as a legendary promoter. “Unfortunately, it is easy to get caught up in the caricature and not appreciate the greatness he has achieved,” Walls said. “The Hatleys are hardworking people who have a certain mistrust of boxing institutions.”