|Saturday, September 21
Rocchigiani wins lawsuit against WBC
NEW YORK -- A German boxer won a $30 million judgment against the World Boxing Council when a Manhattan jury agreed that he was cheated out of his claim to the light-heavyweight championship, his attorney said Saturday.
Graciano Rocchigiani, 38, was awarded the decision Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court, said his lawyer, Richard Dolan. The jury deliberated less than five hours before awarding the veteran boxer $7.8 million in compensatory damages and another $20 million in punitive damages.
With interest, the total will exceed $30 million, Dolan said.
The case began in 1998, when the WBC declared its light-heavyweight title vacant after Roy Jones, the titleholder at the time, considered abandoning the crown to become a heavyweight.
Rocchigiani signed to fight American Michael Nunn for the vacated belt. On March 21, 1998, Rocchigiani won a split decision to become the WBC light-heavyweight champion.
But the Rocchigiani's reign was brief. When Jones decided to return to the light-heavyweight ranks in June, he was restored to his position as WBC champion.
"The WBC sent a letter saying their official rankings, with Rocchigiani as champion, were a typographical error,'' said Dolan. "The whole thing was preposterous. ... It was an outright theft.''
Rocchigiani, a former IBF super middleweight champion whose career record is 40-5-1, filed suit against the WBC in September 1998. The case only came to trial four years later, beginning this Sept. 9.
"I'm surprised and happy that the WBC got some food for thought,'' Rocchigiani told the German Sports Agency, SID. "I believe this ruling sets an example for all of professional boxing.''
On Saturday, Rocchigiani was headed back to Germany to complete a one-year jail sentence imposed earlier this year. The fighter, who had previous legal problems, was sentenced for attacking police officers who found him sleeping in a woman's car.
The attorneys for the WBC did not immediately return messages seeking comment Saturday.
Dolan said his client was hoping for a shot at the "undisputed'' light-heavyweight title still held by Jones.
"If Roy Jones wants it the real way, there's a way to accomplish that,'' Dolan said. "And it won't involve any sleight of hand by Jose Sulaiman and his gang.''