Joe Calzaghe yesterday won his fight over money with his former manager Frank Warren. Mr Justice Wyn Williams dismissed Warren's claim for £1m from the fighter and ruled at the High Court that he should pay Calzaghe around £2m in unpaid fees.
After retiring as undefeated world super-middleweight champion this year, Calzaghe took on his former manager and promoter at the High Court. Warren brought in the heavyweight barrister Ronald Thwaites QC to argue that not only did he not owe the boxer, but Calzaghe owed him £1m for breaking his contract over his last fight.
Calzaghe denied there was a verbal contract to continue boxing for Warren and counterclaimed that he was owed more than £2m in fees for his Bernard Hopkins win last year.
Mr Justice Wyn Williams said he had heard from Mr Warren, and his Sports Network company secretary Edward Simons, Calzaghe and his solicitor and his father, Enzo, about a meeting at which the boxer was said to have agreed verbally to a further contract.
"I have formed the clear view that I should treat the evidence of each of these witnesses with caution," he said. "I say now that there are aspects of the evidence given by each of these persons which has caused me to reflect long and hard upon their credibility, accuracy and reliability." But he said he reached the conclusion that Mr Warren had not established his case that there was a verbal agreement.
He said: "If an oral agreement was concluded as alleged, I have no doubt that some written record would have been created prior to the fight with Mr Hopkins."
The judge said every one of Calzaghe's fights for Warren from January 1998 onwards had been covered by written terms. "In my judgment it simply beggars belief that no written record of this alleged promotional agreement would have been created." The judge added: "Of one thing I am certain. Mr Warren and Mr Simons are astute and experienced businessmen, who have a keen eye for their own commercial interests. That is not intended as a criticism but a statement of fact. However, it means that their behaviour in failing to produce one shred of paper which recorded this alleged agreement is inexplicable."
The judge said it might seem surprising that Mr Warren would persist in asserting a verbal agreement unless such a contract did exist. "There was a powerful motivating factor for the claimant [Mr Warren] to rely upon an alleged oral agreement even though the same did not exist."
Calzaghe was "relieved and delighted at the court's decision". "It totally vindicates what has been my stance throughout," he said. "The fight with Frank Warren was not one which I sought, but I am delighted to have remained undefeated through it. The decision means that I will now be paid money which has been owed to me for almost a year and which was hard-earned in the ring against Bernard Hopkins.
"The judge has made it clear that I was fully within my rights to promote my final bout against Roy Jones Jnr. "