Boxer Sues Finkel & Co.

Empire Sports & Entertainment and CEO Shelly Finkel are the defendants in a lawsuit filed by Heavyweight boxer Shannon Briggs, a former management client who claims he was not paid most of his purse from a bout against Vitali Klitschko last year.

Briggs claims he was not only a client of Empire but also a 50 percent partner at one point. The boxer claims he was to be paid $500,000, win-or-lose, plus $200,000 in additional compensation to participate in the fight, and $50,000 for training by Empire.

However, Briggs was brutally beaten in the October WFC fight and spent 12 days in the hospital after the 12-round decision.

Briggs claims he was paid a total of $25,000, that the company denied it had agreed to pay the boxer $750,000 and that previous payments made to him were in fact salary for services to the company, therefore giving the company the right to recoup the purse owed to Briggs, according to the lawsuit.

Further, the lawsuit claims the company terminated Briggs’ promotional agreement and, “to add insult to injury,” deducted Briggs’ hospitalization from the purse.

Briggs claims he was a partner in a previous company, Golden Empire, with Greg Cohen, and Briggs as a partner recruited other boxers to be clients of the promotion company. When Golden Empire shifted to Empire, Briggs was told it was just a name change but discovered his shares were diluted in the new company, the lawsuit alleges.

Defendants include Cohen, Finkel and Barry Honig, Empire co-chairman.

Finkel has been a boxing manager for 30 years, with clients including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao and Michael Moorer.

But he is also known for promoting, alongside Jim Koplik, one of the largest concerts of all time. The Summer Jam in 1973 at Watkins Glen Grand Prix raceway in New York drew 600,000 to see The Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and The Band.

Together they formed Cross Country Concerts, which handled concert promotion for Connecticut. When Finkel moved to boxing, Koplik stayed in concert promotion, selling Cross Country to SFX in 1998. Koplik is chairman of the Northeast Region for Live Nation.

Finkel has called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and said the defendants had not been served with the complaint. Finkel said their lawyers would handle questions once that happens. Finkel was unavailable for further comment at press time.