RING and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward spoke to RingTV.com's Tim Smith regarding his ongoing litigation with promoter Dan Goossen after the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Earlier this month, the California State Athletic Commission's (CSAC) made a decision to uphold Ward's contract with Goossen Tutor Promotions, after which the fighter's attorney Josh Dubin and manager James Prince issued a counter statement on Ward's behalf.
Ward broached the subject in depth, himself, including the notion of his having had a co-promoter in Antonio Leonard, with Smith, with the details of their conversation being below. Goossen could not be reached for an immediate comment.
Andre Ward on the crux of the lawsuit:
"The promoter gets to have off-the-record conversations that controls the on-the-record narrative. I don’t get the luxury of talking to reporters off the record. It’s easy to paint a certain picture and have smokescreens and create bad press against me. I've followed the sport for many years. Not just the in the ring stuff, but the business side. When Floyd Mayweather felt like there was a market for African American fighters, he was told he was crazy. He got out of contract and Floyd Mayweather is doing OK right now. They’ve been calling Bernard Hopkins crazy for the past 20 years for the decisions that he’s been making.
"Bernard Hopkins is doing OK right now. They called Roy [Jones] crazy when he started Square Ring Promotions and said it’s never going to work. Roy had a phenomenal career. So I've studied these things and I realize that these things happen. But the reality of the situation is this – we have many issues. The root of the issue is something that the promoter doesn’t want to talk about and I can guarantee he won’t come on the record and refute – Dan Goossen has never been my sole promoter.
"You look at my track record. It was Goossen's company and Square Ring. Co-Promoter, Antonio Leonard, bought Square Ring out. The first contract ran out and I signed an extension. Both of those guys put up money to re-sign me. It was 50-50. I took Dan Goossen’s money and I took Antonio Leonard's money. I can’t in good conscience walk away from this man after having taken his bonus and know that he’s not getting paid and that he's not getting compensated. That he’s being ignored and just continue to go on like things are OK.
"That’s the root of the issue. That’s how this thing got started. And as we started pulling things back we realized some of the laws that were being broken. That’s a friend of mine. That's a business partner of mine. Those two have a lawsuit now in state and federal court because he [Leonard] didn’t get paid for the Rodriguez fight. I’m not OK with that. I don’t mind the bad press of Ward being difficult, Ward doesn’t want to fight, Ward’s ruining his career.
"I’ve seen that happen to Floyd Mayweather. I’ve seen that happen to Bernard Hopkins. I’ve seen that happen to Roy Jones. I can take that because I know the truth. I don’t know what you guys feel about it, but I’ve always tried to be a straight shooter when it comes to the media. That’s the root of the issue. I’m in shape and I’m ready to fight. But that’s not what’s being reported. All you see is stories being regurgitated over and over again."
On his concerns about Leonard's treatment by Goossen:
"That’s the root of the issue. That’s how this whole thing got started. Every time a fighter stands up it’s not a bad thing. You have to understand that I want to be in the ring more than anyone else wants me to be in the ring. This is literally how I feed my family. I just turned 30 years old. I’m in the prime of my career. This isn’t a lawsuit where a judge has put some kind of mandate or stipulation that I can’t fight. That’s not the case.
"There was a lawsuit filed in Superior Court and an email that followed that saying let’s continue to work together. There’s been a multitude of emails going back and forth, and a lot of games being played. The reality of the situation is that there hasn’t been one offer. The root of the issue is a man put up a significant amount of money, $550,000 for me to re-sign.
"Antonio Leonard put up $275,000. I accepted that like I accepted Goossen-Tutor's. To all of a sudden, for whatever reason and I don’t know what the reason is to this day, decide to walk away and exclude him is just unacceptable. I can’t do it. I refuse to do it. It’s a very tough time. I’m human. This is how I make a living. Being at the fights tonight, I’m supposed to be in the ring."
On HBO's involvement:
"I don’t know exactly how HBO feels about it. I haven’t spoken to them directly. I think they know enough. I think they’re trying to see how this thing plays out. If the opportunity presents itself, I know they’re ready to offer me a fight.
"There’s no reason to be afraid [of being sued by Goossen] when we have a paper trail going back and forth that says we mutually agreed to work together. I would venture to say that Goossen has been in touch with them, but has been unable to deliver."
On fights that are possible:
"He’s pursued some fights. But he hasn’t been able to bring any to me. He mentioned that he tried to dig up Mikkel Kessler in Denmark. We said OK, make us an offer. He came back and said the offer is not satisfactory and I can’t offer you this. I’m going to pursue this fight in the States. He got another offer from the network (HBO) and it was way too low. He killed it. He said he was going to continue to look. We waited and waited and waited.
"We got another email with four names on it – Sakio Bika, Anthony Dirrell, James Degale and the Russian the regular champion from the WBA. I can’t pronounce his name. And he said if those names are OK, we’ll get a deal done immediately. We’re waiting for him to make us an offer. We’re anxious to get back in the ring. As you guys know those names aren’t steps forward. They’re steps backwards.
"But we’re willing. Make us an offer. But no. There hasn’t been one offer since December. That’s the reality of the situation. I know, but I don’t know, that there are off-the-record conversations taking place. Contrary to what I’m saying right now and it influences what happens on the record. And general fans they don’t know any better. They read it. They regurgitate it and then they say, 'Ah man….' I’m OK with that because I know what I’m standing for is right."
Floyd’s comments that Ward is one of the best Pound-for-Pound and he deserves to be represented by someone who can get him the fights he deserves and make him a Pay Per View star:
"I appreciate it. I know Floyd has his business hat on, as he should. He’s got to take a shot. I just appreciate it and the fact that he acknowledged me.
On how far the issue can go in court:
"It’s tough because we have a litigation, but at the same time I’m supposed to be fighting. So it’s kind of tough. It’s not like we’re on the sidelines until this lawsuit gets resolved. I’m supposed to be fighting.
On the potential for laying out to HBO what he wants to do in terms of fighting:
"I have to talk to my manager James Prince. We have to figure that part out. What’s happening right now isn’t right. A lot of time there’s no progress without sacrifice. Right now I’m sacrificing. I appreciate Bernard (Hopkins) coming up to me and encouraging me and kind of saying, 'Listen, I’ve been there and done that… with the same guy.
"'Hang in there. It’s not going to last forever. Stay in shape.' He just encouraged me. I appreciate it. That’s tangible stuff I can hold on to. I can go and research that lawsuit. I see the stuff that Floyd went through when he was frustrated that he wasn’t being promoted. Now look at Floyd.
On remaining at 168 pounds:
"I’m not a light heavyweight. That’s what it is. I know there’s been a lot of noise about [Sergey] Kovalev. That’s one fight. That’s not even a pay per view fight. That’s a premium network television fight. When I go there and we beat Kovalev, they’re going to say he’s just a puncher and he’s one-dimensional. Where do I go from there? I’m stuck at the light heavyweight division. There are options. Gennady Golovkin is an option. [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Jr.] is an option. But those guys have been allowed to circumvent fighting the best guys. Golovkin has built his reputation on fighting anybody. I raise my hand and say I’m somebody. Let’s do it. And there’s nothing. They circumvent and try to go Chavez.
"First they say we’re going to stay at 160 and clean it out. Then they go to Chavez and Chavez falls through and now they’re on to something else. That’s fine, but how can you build your reputation on one thing and when somebody stands up and says let’s test that….By the way I think Golovkin is a phenomenal fighter. We went to the same Olympics. I think he won a silver medal. He’s a really good fighter. Same with Chavez Jr. So when people say that there aren’t any good fights to be made… Carl Froch is a fight that can be made. That’s a fight where I forgot about him. I beat him and moved on. But he kept talking, kept talking and drumming up interest.
"I was in his country when he fought Kessler and I said let’s talk. He was allowed to circumvent and go around. But yet he’s still allowed to talk. If you’re going to talk step up. If you’re not going to step up, don’t talk. There are more fights for me at 168 than there are at 175. [Adonis] Stevenson’s gone. There’s one fight and it’s not even pay per view. I’m not a light heavyweight. The media and the fans can put pressure on those guys to fight – not make excuse, but to fight. Those guys have been allowed to circumvent."
On his relative silence through the maelstrom:
"When I had the injury I think I did a really good job me and my friend, Collin Christopher, a videographer, just staying out there and staying visible. We did those things on our own. People were excited for my return. I don’t feel like it was the return it should have been in terms of the build-up and the promotion. But I felt like I sustained my fan base and had even more buzz. People were hungry because we did our part to stay out there. This is a little bit different. I think people are still very hungry. I see people on the streets and I see people at fights and they want to know what’s next. People are lamenting for my situation. You can pull the wool over people’s eyes for a period of time. But over time, people start to figure things out and they start to add things up. A lie, a lot of times, will get to the destination first. And the truth has legs. It takes a little longer. But when it gets there the truth will always stand. That’s what I believe.
"There’s a lot of noise on the sideline and people have opinions. But they haven’t gotten both sides of the story. If you don’t have both sides of the story, how can you accurately write something or have a polarizing opinion. As far as me being quiet while this thing is going on, I have to. There are certain things I can say and certain things I can’t say. I’m happy I’m here to talk to you guys now. But this is the reality of the situation. In terms of fan base, I’m building up so much hunger going through these trials and tribulations. This is real life stuff I’m going through. I’m not getting fat and I’m not getting depressed. I’m working.
"My time is going to come. When I get pass this, the floodgates are going to open and I’m going to be in the position I’m supposed to be in. I feel like I have to pay my dues. Floyd is I don’t know how many years in, but he has to pay his dues every time he gets in that ring. And so do I. I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me. I’ve won every fight. You need a team. You need a good manager. You need a good promoter. But the reality is the promoter is only as good as the fighter that they have. If I lose you can’t go to a network, to another promoter and demand anything. So you hear things about I should be grateful and that I’m being ungrateful.
"But if I don’t go in there and perform nobody looks good. You don’t see anger in me right now. You see passion for my sport. Like when Floyd talks about the fighter’s health, he knows. He’s getting hit in there. He probably got his bell rung a couple of times tonight. We didn’t know it. He’s going home and has to deal with that. The business side, I didn’t even scratch the surface. I’m just giving you the root of the issue. You guys would be shocked. I’m not the first fighter who has gone through this and I’m not going to be the last. And that gives me encouragement to keep going."