Although Andre Ward acknowledged a recently filed lawsuit seeking separation from career-long promoter Dan Goossen, with whom he has had an ongoing contractual rift, the RING super middleweight champion still expects to return to the ring in “March or April,” Ward informed RingTV.com on Thursday.
The 29-year-old 2004 Olympic gold medalist has been spent his entire professional career with Goossen, who learned on Monday that Ward had filed suit in attempt to end a contract that ties him to Goossen until September of 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I’m not going to speak on ongoing litigation at this time. We will let the legal process take it’s course. I’m fully focused on getting back in the ring and having an active 2014,” Ward stated in an e-mail to RingTV.com on Wednesday.
“The legal process that I’m going through right now should have no bearing on my getting back in the ring as soon as possible and I’m hoping to fight some time in March or April.”
Goossen signed Ward to a multi-year deal in November of 2004, only months after the fighter had become America’s first Olympic gold medalist since 1996, and its third since 1992.
But according to The Times, Ward’s lawsuit asserts that extensions in his original deal with Goossen created a contractual bind beyond seven years — which a court ruled against in allowing Oscar De La Hoya to leave his then-promoter, Top Rank, in 2001.
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.
In August, far in advance of last month’s unanimous decision over Edwin Rodriguez, Ward had appeared to at least partially resolve issues. Ward told RingTV.com at the time that he had met with Goossen, Prince and co-promoter Antonio Leonard to reach a mutual plan “to move forward” with the Rodriguez fight.
“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,” Ward said in August.
“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.”
At the time, Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) was 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 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.
“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,” said Ward.
“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.”
Ward characterized his meeting with Goossen, Leonard and Prince as “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,” said Ward, in April.
“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.”
Apparently, those problems still exist.
“I’m very disappointed in Andre,” said Goossen. “There’s not much more to say.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org