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Two of the biggest collectors of vintage boxing films will be duking it out in court now that one claims it was cheated out of its fair share when their combined collection was recently sold for $80 million to ESPN, the cable television sports network. Attorney George Bochetto of Bochetto & Lentz filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of Peltz Boxing Promotions Inc. Named as defendants in the suit are The Big Fights Inc. of New York and its owner, William D. Cayton of Larchmont, N.Y. According to the suit, the Peltz company has been in the boxing promotion business since the 1970s. Its founder and president, J. Russell Peltz, started his career as a sports columnist for The Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia and went on to manage and promote boxers. The suit says Peltz “developed one of the world’s finest private collections of boxing memorabilia and artwork.” Big Fights and Cayton are prominent boxing promoters whose clients have included Mike Tyson, the suit says. Cayton also developed a significant collection of boxing memorabilia and “at one point possessed an even larger library of boxing-match videos than Peltz,” the suit says. In 1982, the suit says, Peltz and Cayton entered into a contract in which Peltz gave Big Fights the exclusive right to “commercially exploit” the 200 tapes in Peltz’s collection. The contract also said Big Fights would pay Peltz a share of whatever “net revenues” were realized. To get the highest price, the suit says, Big Fights decided to combine the two video libraries. But Peltz claims that when Big Fights and Cayton struck an $80 million deal with ESPN, they conspired to hide the sale and its terms from Peltz. “Cayton and Big Fights have deliberately falsified the facts to Peltz, repeatedly telling Peltz that ESPN would pay Peltz when it actually used the tapes and, falsely, that that was the only circumstance under which any compensation was payable relative to Peltz’s boxing videotapes,” the suit says. Peltz claims that he relied on the “misrepresentations” and only later learned that ESPN had paid Cayton and Big Fights $80 million “up front.” Peltz also claims that Cayton and Big Fights had paid him only “de minimus” royalties since the sale “in an effort to conceal their frauds.” Under the contract, the suit says, Peltz was promised a quarterly “statement of account” including details of all compensation earned. The suit cites claims for alleged breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, fraudulent concealment and civil conspiracy. It also asks for a declaratory judgment that the 1982 agreement is enforceable for ongoing royalties and demands that a constructive trust be established over all funds received by the defendants. The case, Peltz Boxing Promotions Inc. v. The Big Fights Inc., 02-cv-2062, has been assigned to U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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