During Saturday night’s appearance on HBO’s The Fight Game, super middleweight champion Andre Ward characterized his contractual rift with promoter Dan Goossen as “a major problem,” denied trying to form a union with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum in order to make a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and said he would take a return bout with Carl Froch in Froch’s native England under the right circumstances.
Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) spoke to host Jim Lampley after having worked as an HBO ringside commentator for Saturday night’s third-round stoppage victory by WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin over top-10 contender Matthew Macklin at the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, Conn.
Coming off an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson last September, which followed the win over Froch in December of 2011, Ward has said that he would like to return to the ring in September of this year.
But Goossen and manager James Prince have been at odds over the future of Ward, who unsuccessfully attempted to void his contract with Goossen, which was upheld by a California State Athletic Commission arbitrator on Friday.
Lampley asked Ward about the status of his promotional relationship with Goossen, who has handled Ward since he turned pro after winning a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics.
“Obviously, Jim, just to respect the process, and just because it’s ongoing, there are certain aspects of it that I can’t talk about. But what I can say is this, you know, I simply want my co-promoter, Antonio Leonard, who has been my co-promoter since 2008 when he bought out Square Ring, Roy Jones‘ company, up until this point,” said Ward, who had requested an arbitration hearing in an attempt to release him from the contract with Goossen.
“I want Antonio Leonard, and my trusted advisor and my manager, who, frankly, I’ve known long before I ever met Dan Goossen, to be at the negotiating table and in the rooms talking to the networks and helping to negotiate my fights. I mean, this is the way that I want these things to be done, and I’m the captain of my ship, and I’m the boss of my team. I am the guy that’s leading the charge, and as long as everybody understands that and respects that, then we can move forward with a fight in September. But if we don’t have an understanding, which it looks like we don’t right now, then we have a major problem.”
Ward had informed RingTV.com that he wanted to return to action in September from successful surgery in early January to repair his injured right shoulder, with Chavez being his potential rival. Ward’s injury had forced the cancelation of his scheduled March 2 defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik, who, like Chavez, is promoted by Top Rank.
Lampley also asked: Is Ward trying to get away from Goossen to join Top Rank, and, thus, make a bout with Chavez?
“That’s a two-part question. I’ll agree with the latter part, but the former part, is just flat out wrong, and it’s really unfortunate, because I’ve seen a lot of writers that I respect run with that story, and without talking to me first, and that’s a very superficial reason to try to leave a promoter. I mean, I’m a man of my word, and as long as my contract is binding, then I’m going to adhere to my contract like I always have. People have to understand that litigation and these type of things, lawsuits, they cost money, and that’s the wrong reason to try to get out of a contract. Frankly, I think that fight can be made,” said Ward.
“I don’t think that’s a fight that Bob is running from. People have to understand that Dan Goossen and my team have worked together. They successfully negotiated with Bob to close the Pavlik deal. That deal was signed, sealed and delivered before I got hurt, and I just think that that’s a fight with Chavez Jr., that can be made the way things are right now. As long as Chavez wants it, I want it, I’m sure that HBO wants it, and the fans want to see it, and those are the things types of major fights — not just a premium network fight — but a major pay per view fight that I’m in line for, and I think that Chavez wants it and everybody involved wants it.”
Ward also discussed rumors that there are talks underway between Goossen and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport for a rematch with Froch, whom Ward defeated in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six tournament.
“I can’t say that they have been. I do know that Eddie Hearn, from what I understand, via the internet, has reached out to my promoter. But as it’s well-publicized, me and my promoter are having a major issue going on right now, so I don’t know what those talks have entailed,” said Ward.
“I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have to fight Carl Froch again. The only reason that the fight is even being talked up is that he’s made a million and one excuses and his fans seem to believe him. So that being said, I’m open to the discussion, but they just need to understand that when they come to the negotiating table who is on the A-side of things, and who is on the B-side.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com