RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward said that he has resolved his contractual rift with promoter Dan Goossen, that a fight against unbeaten contender Edwin Rodriguez is being discussed for Nov. 16 on HBO, and he addressed criticism of his drawing power during an interview with RingTV.com.
Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) is coming off a 10th-round knockout of then-RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson last September, which followed a win over current IBF counterpart Carl Froch in December of 2011.
Ward had attempted to void his contract with Goossen, who had been at odds with manager James Prince over the fighter’s future, only to have Goossen’s contract upheld by a California State Athletic Commission arbitrator.
Since then, however, Ward said that he has met with Goossen, Prince and co-promoter Antonio Leonard to reach a mutual plan “to move forward,” with Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) being discussed as his possible nexztr opponent.
In March, Rodriguez scored a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna. Last month, he blasted out light heavyweight contender Denis Grachev at 2:50 of the first round in a triumph he called “the biggest, most important of my career.”
Ward had previously 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 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. being his “dream” opponent.
Ward’s injury had forced the cancelation of a scheduled March 2 defense against former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, who, like Chavez, is promoted by Top Rank.
Andre Ward on when he wants to return to the ring and against whom:
“Basically, September was being discussed back and forth with HBO and they pushed that back from Sept. 28 to November. So right now I’m looking at a Nov. 16 date, and, the name that is being pushed right now is Edwin Rodriguez. I have no problem with it.
“That wasn’t the guy I was looking at. I wasn’t even looking in Edwin’s direction, to be honest with you. That wasn’t a fight that we thought that HBO wanted. But for some reason, that’s the fight that they want, because they kept pushing it. And I think that them pushing it as hard as they did, that probably pushed Edwin to go and sign with Al (Haymon).
“But, since that signing, they still seem to think that the fight is makeable, and I’m fine with it. I just think that if it’s a fight that his side wants as bad as they say that they do, then some of the figures that they’re throwing out to get paid are a little low. I think that they need to lift those figures and be more realistic, and the fight can be made.”
On the prospect of facing Rodriguez:
“Now that’s the name that keeps coming up, and I said, ‘make the fight happen.’ We got rescheduled from Sept. 28, so HBO said ‘Can you do it in November?’ We agreed to it. So, I mean, right now, it’s very simple. We’re at an impasse because his side is asking for ridiculous money.
“That’s not my problem who gets paid well. That’s between Rodriguez and his team. We put up a number, and the number is more than Rodriguez made in his last fight, and it’s more than he’s made in his whole career, and it’s a good number. But his team is asking for $1 million plus, and that’s just not gonna happen.
“They’re asking for $1 million plus. I mean, they’re acting like it’s his last fight. I mean, I understand that they’re supposed to fight for their guy, but if they want the fight as eagerly as they say that they want it, then the number that was thrown out there to them, I think that’s doable.”
On his relationship with Goossen:
“As of right now, we’re moving forward. It’s a business relationship after the decision. I think that there is a misconception out there that, every time that a fighter stands up for himself, especially with the rumors that were floating around in my case during the arbitration period or whatever, that the fighter wants to get away for the wrong reasons.
“There were legitimate reasons why. I am not going to take time and money to put my career on hold to go through that if I didn’t feel strongly about what I was going to the commission for. I don’t agree with the way that the commission handled it, but with that being said, after the decision was rendered, Goossen, Antonio Leonard, my co-promoter, and James Prince, they flew to Oakland, and we sat in a room for three hours and we had it out.
“It was good. I think that that was needed. Before we left, there were certain stipulations made that I won’t talk about now to respect Goossen and everybody involved in the process that needed to be done if we were going to move forward the way that we were supposed to, and as of right now, those demands and those things have been met.
“And it’s really nothing out of the ordinary. It’s not monetary demands, it’s just wanting my career to be run a certain way because at the end of the day, I respect everybody on my team, but I’m the boss. And as long as everybody understands that, then we can have a good relationship. But when that’s not understood, and there’s a misconception about that, then that’s when we have problems.”
On his inactivity:
“I am really disappointed that it’s taken so long, but a 14-month layoff is not going to hurt me. I’ve been taking care of my body, and I think that my body is actually thanking me for the rest. I’ve been on a grind, and I try to be a max effort guy every day.
“But when you do that for 20 years, it’s going to take a toll on your body. But I feel like I have a lot left in the tank, and I feel like once I get past this next fight in November, we’ll move on to bigger and better things. I’m going to come back stronger.”
On the crictism of his drawing power (and defending himself on Twitter):
“I don’t have anything else to say about that situation. I just feel that it’s the season to address certain things that are said in the media that are misconceptions, and down right just not true. I just want my fans to be on notice about what’s accurate and what’s not.
“In the situation that I addressed on Twitter, that was a situation where the writer was trying to justify Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez getting tune up fights based on their popularity and their ratings. Now, no disrespect to Delvin Rodriguez or the guy [Brian Vera] that Chavez is fighting, because those guys need to be respected.
“Now, that’s just half of the story. They’re trying to put me up against Cotto, and he’s somebody that I respect and I’m a fan of Cotto’s. But Cotto’s been in multiple pay per views, and he has a country behind him. So it’s not really fair to put me up against that guy number for number at this point in my career.
“Cotto’s been in the game for 20 years [Editor’s note: Cotto has been a pro for 12-and-half years], and I’ve been a pro for nine and a half years. I’m on my way. Or Chavez, who is somebody who was basically grandfathered into the game with his father’s name, and he has a country behind him. But outside of Floyd Mayweather, there’s just really no other American that’s selling out arenas consistently or smashing records with ratings.
“So to single me out and say, ‘Oh, this is the reason why he can’t get a tuneup,’ it’s not accurate. It’s wrong. Some of the same writers who write that stuff are the same writers who were at my weigh-in for the Dawson fight, which was electric. There were hundreds of people at the weigh-in.
“Or in the arena that night at the Oracle, which was another night that was electric. But it’s like when I first turned pro, they said that I had an amateur style. Then, the criticism was that I couldn’t punch. Then when I got knocked down, the criticism was that I couldn’t take a punch.
“From there, the criticism was that I wasn’t going to be a champ and that I wasn’t championship material. The list goes on and on, and over the years, we’ve reputed and knocked down all of those criticisms, until now, critics have to find something, like, ‘Oh, he can’t sell tickets.’ That’s not accurate and it’s not true.
“So if there is anything that certain guys want to find, that’s what they do to not want to crown me the next guy in line after Mayweather. Now that’s cool if you’re talking about my ability. But when you start having things that are factually inaccurate or you’re telling half of my story, then, in that case, I felt the need to address it. Not necessarily for my sake, because I know the truth, but for my fans.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com