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Top trainer says Errol Spence Jr did the wrong thing by Derrick James in financial dispute

Errol Spence Jr with trainer Derrick James. Photo credit: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champion

Experienced trainer Virgil Hunter has weighed in on the financial dispute between former WBC, WBA and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr and his longtime coach Derrick James.

Last month James filed a lawsuit against Spence in Dallas County, Texas seeking damages upward of $5 million for what he says is underpayment for his work as coach. Spence responded by filing a countersuit seeking declaratory relief.

The 34-year-old Spence 28-1 (22) suffered his first defeat last July when he was stopped by Terence Crawford 40-0 (31) in nine frames.

Spence’s fight contract listed a guaranteed purse of $3.5 million. He paid James $350,000 as per their handshake agreement that he would give him a cut of 10%.

The sticking point for James is that Spence reportedly earned a career-high $25 million for the bout through the pay-per-view upside and other revenue streams. The 52-year-old believes his deal with Spence should cover these earnings.

Hunter, who famously trained Andre Ward from a young kid to various world championships in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, has very clear views on the matter.

“Fighters got to understand that if this man has been with you from the root to the fruit, then that man should be compensated,” said Hunter to FightHype.

“You don’t let somebody come in and tell you ‘well, he’s not family’. Well, how many times has family been there? You don’t let somebody come in and say ‘he don’t deserve that, this is enough’. How are you going to let somebody determine what is enough to pay the guy who’s been with you through thick and thin?

“So what they got to understand is that this is a write off for you. So if you don’t give it to the man who’s been there with you the whole time you’re going to give it to Uncle Sam for nothing. So you get to write that off.

“So you going to take away from the man that’s been there with you but you’re going to still pay Uncle Sam what you should’ve paid him, and then Derrick could’ve paid the taxes on what you paid him.

“If you don’t give it to the trainer and get the write off for somebody who’s been there for you and helped you, then you’re going to give it to Uncle Sam who never been one day in the gym with you at all, who never been on the journey with you, who never started with you, who never went to tournaments with you when you was amateurs, who didn’t go to the Olympics with you, then start up through the pro ranks with you, didn’t get that first championship belt with you… but you giving him a big cut of what you made.

“So I think if they looked at it from that perspective that fighters would tend to pay the trainers more fairly. Particularly when you’re coming off a loss, a lot of people putting blame on the trainers. Trainer is the first person that gets blamed when you come off a loss.

“With this man’s help, it put you in this position to make that kind of money. You can’t say it didn’t. He put you in a position; he sweated with you, he sacrificed with you and he helped you make that kind of money.

“You didn’t do it by yourself.”