A Beverly Hills businessman who maintains he’s owed part of an $8.6 million payout being sought by a restaurant server for allegedly helping set up Manny Pacquiao’s 2015 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. testified Wednesday that he completed his part of the deal when he arranged a meeting between Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach and then-CBS President Leslie Moonves.
Richard “Richie” Palmer told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy that the server, Gabriel Rueda, told him that Roach would not talk to him and that he hoped Palmer, a former boxer and longtime friend of the famous trainer, could succeed in bringing Roach and Mooves together and the long-awaited fight to fruition.
Palmer said he and Rueda had a clear verbal agreement about how Palmer would be compensated if the boxing match occurred.
“If the fight got made and he got paid, I expected to get half of what he got,” Palmer said.
Palmer, who founded the Mulberry Street Pizzeria chain and was once married to actress Raquel Welch, wants the judge to find during the non-jury trial that he is entitled to 50 percent of what Rueda may obtain through any judgment in the server’s own case, in which he is seeking a finder’s fee from Pacquiao and others for his alleged role in setting the groundwork for the fight.
Palmer’s court papers also state that Showtime Entertainment gave Rueda a ticket to the fight, a night’s stay in Las Vegas and a $10,000 check to cover the rest of his hotel and travel expenses.
Palmer testified that he was a customer at Craig’s restaurant in West Hollywood in May 2014 when Rueda, who worked there at the time, approached him and said he had an idea about how the two could both make some money. On a subsequent date, Rueda promised he would give Palmer a split of his finder’s fee if Palmer could convince Roach to meet with Moonves regarding a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, Palmer said.
Palmer says he arranged a get-together between Roach and Moonves later that month and that it took place at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills. Palmer testified he later read in a newspaper that Rueda filed a lawsuit in February 2016 seeking the $8.6 million finder’s fee, naming as defendants Pacquiao, Roach, CBS, Showtime Entertainment and Keith Davidson, described in the plaintiff’s court papers as a lawyer for “Roach, Pacquiao and a few other powerful people.”
“He was looking for millions of dollars and I wasn’t going to get anything,” Palmer said.
Rueda’s suit, which is still awaiting trial, states that he was Moonves’ waiter at Craig’s and told him he could introduce him to Roach in order to break the ice between Al Haymon and Bob Arum, the promoters for Mayweather and Pacquiao, respectively.
The Rueda lawsuit states that he arranged a meeting between Roach and Moonves, with an agreement that he would get a 2 percent finder’s fee of gross fight proceeds paid to CBS, Showtime Network, Pacquiao and Roach.
Rueda also took the stand Wednesday and disputed Palmer’s claim that he needed his help to get Roach to talk to him.
“I did not need Mr. Palmer’s help to speak with Mr. Roach,” Rueda said. “I spoke directly to Mr. Roach and directly to Mr. Moonves.”
Asked by Palmer’s attorney, Cary Goldstein, why he thought Palmer sued him, Rueda said he believes it is part of a conspiracy by the defendants in his lawsuit to try and undermine his case.
Rueda said he once considered Palmer, Roach and Pacquiao friends, but now considers the Filipino fighter as “someone who owes me money.”
He said that he came up with a “multimillion-dollar idea” that benefited many, but ended up being “punished and continues to be punished.”
In a sworn declaration, Roach said he was unaware that Palmer and Rueda expected to receive a finder’s fee for setting up a meeting between the trainer and Moonves, who stepped down as CBS’ president, chairman and CEO in September 2018 after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Had anyone told me or indicated that they expected a cash fee or any compensation for setting up that meeting, I certainly would not have gone,” Roach said, adding that he did not know Rueda and “had to be convinced to go to the meeting.”
Pacquiao, hobbled by a shoulder injury, lost to Mayweather by unanimous decision when the two fought on May 2, 2015.
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