Montreal promoter Yvon Michel, who says he still has a contract with middleweight contender David Lemieux, is suing the fighter and others associated with him in the Superior Court of Quebec for $1.35 million, claiming Lemieux broke their agreement.
Michel also is suing Lemieux representative Camille Estephan and his Eye of the Tiger Management; Golden Boy Promotions, which announced it signed Lemieux to a promotional agreement in January; and HBO, which televised Lemieux's last fight in December and which Michel claims is complicit in Lemieux's breaking his contract.
Michel's Groupe Yvon Michel "claims that it has suffered damages of $1,350,000 as a result of tortuous conduct and bad faith actions by the defendants."
Michel claims that Lemieux has been under contract to GYM since he turned pro in 2007 and remains so.
According to the suit, "GYM has always acted in Lemieux's best interest, and oversaw his development at every level, turning him into a top contender in the middleweight division, and a financially viable professional boxer and gate attraction."
The lawsuit alleges that after Estephan made a deal with Michel to modify their agreement, he orchestrated Lemieux's move to Golden Boy and cut Michel out. The lawsuit further claims that HBO was complicit with Estephan to remove Michel as Lemieux's promoter.
HBO and Michel have seen their once-strong relationship fall apart in the wake of light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, Michel's top fighter, leaving HBO for rival Showtime last year when HBO believed it had a deal with Michel for Stevenson to face Sergey Kovalev in a 175-pound title unification bout in the fall.
Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs), 26, of Montreal, is one of the rising contenders in the 160-pound weight class. He made his HBO debut -- and his American debut -- on Dec. 6 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and turned in an impressive 10th-round knockout performance against battle-tested former title challenger Gabriel Rosado.
After Jermain Taylor, mired in legal issues and unable to defend his world title, was stripped of his belt Feb. 6, the IBF sought to fill the vacancy by ordering mandatory challenger Hassan N'Dam to fight its leading available contender for the belt.
When other boxers passed on the opportunity, the IBF eventually reached Lemieux in its rankings and he accepted the fight with N'Dam (31-1, 18 KOs).
Estephan told ESPN.com that Lemieux's contract with Michel has been "expired for quite some time."
"Our lawyers have reviewed and analyzed their claims, and we feel very confident that it has no basis, and chances of success [and] their pursuit of extracting money from us are, at best, extremely slim and factually none," he said.
Estephan said Michel is claiming they have a verbal agreement that does not exist.
"They are based on allegations from GYM that they have a verbal agreement extending the contract and are simply seeking damages," Estephan said. "I can tell you that in no way, shape or form David nor I have ever agreed to anything verbally with GYM or anyone associated with them.
"We do not have any concerns that their suit would slow down David's ascension and career. Hence we are looking forward and working diligently with GBP on making the fight for the IBF title between David and Hassan N'Dam."
However, with the lawsuit pending, it remains to be seen when the N'Dam-Lemieux fight will take place and whether HBO, which could open itself to further claims for damages from Michel, is willing to televise another Lemieux bout before the legal issues are settled.
HBO and Golden Boy declined to comment.