RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward spoke to RingTV.com about his desire to reach a settlement or a buyout deal with promoter Dan Goossen given their ongoing litigation, and he admitted that the situation could keep him out of the ring for the remainder of 2014 and perhaps beyond.
Goossen could not be reached for comment and is off for the weekend, according to Goossen Promotions publicist Bernie Bahrmasel. Earlier this month, the California State Athletic Commission's (CSAC) made a decision to uphold Ward's contract with Goossen Promotions, after which the fighter's attorney Josh Dubin and manager James Prince issued a counter statement on Ward's behalf.
Below are Ward's comments, spoken during a Friday interview with RingTV.com, in regard to his situation with Goossen.
Andre Ward on consideration of settling with Goossen for the sake of his career, or of buying out Goossen in order to be released from his contract:
"That's something that I've considered. I've picked up the phone personally and called Dan since the lawsuit has been filed, and I've had a very detailed conversation with him about where the personal relationship is between he and I.
"Obviously, the lawsuit is not good for anybody. But I've offered the opportunity to come to the table with a mutual party to see what could be worked out."
Ward on the possibility of not fighting this year, or perhaps far into next year:
"All of the things that you mentioned are realistic possibilities and they're unfortunate. I think that if you look at my comments back in December, in multiple interviews, right after the lawsuit was filed, I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
"My side and my team, we have mutually agreed to move forward. Right after the lawsuit was filed, and since the lawsuit was filed, I've said that it's not this lawsuit that is impeding me from getting into the ring. There's no court order that says that you can't fight.
"Until a judge or a jury rules on this contract, or until both sides are able to come together and come to a mutual agreement to go our seperate ways, I still remain fit and ready.
"I have adhered to my side of the contract. But since the lawsuit has been filed, I've yet to be offered a fight that is in line with the contract."
Ward on what is keeping him out of the ring:
"I've seen fighters come on the record and say, 'Well, I'll fight Andre Ward when his legal issues are over with.' But those fighters and their promoters know that this isn't impeding anybody from picking up the phone and entertaining a fight being made.
"I think that fighters are trying to use this as an excuse or a reason to not fight. To the fans that are confused out there about some of things that have been said or that have been written about this, this is coming from the horse's mouth: This lawsuit has nothing to do with me getting back into the ring.
"There's still a contract in place, and everybody's obligated to adhere to that contract, but I've done my part, and I'm still waiting for that option, or multiple options to be presented to me where me and my team can make an educated decision on how we move forward in terms of getting back into the ring.
"So, I've been available, and I remain available to entertain any offer that's presented from the promoter, and I've not been presented with any offers at the present time."
Ward on the subject of Mikkel Kessler:
"People have to understand, I know that the California Commission attempted to say that an offer pertaining to the Kessler fight was 'bonafide,' but if you look at the e-mails and the different things that were exchanged, the Kessler fight was brought up for a potential match in Denmark, or a match between he and I in the United States.
"The promoter (Goossen) said, himself, in an e-mail that, 'This is not good enough for you, and I can't offer this to you, and that 'We'll look for other options.' I never refused anything, and I never said no to anything. But since that time, there's yet to be any offers.
"There's been talk about 'Maybe this guy or maybe that guy,' but a bonafide offer being presented me that says 'These terms are consistent with what's in the contract' or 'This is a legitimate fight' or 'This network wants to review the fight' or 'This is the venue' or, 'Do you want this fight?'
"I have yet to receive one of those. Not one, since my last fight in November. The Kessler fight was never offered, and I want to be clear about that. There was an option for the opportunity to go to Denmark for Kessler.
"We waited for an offer to be made, and the promoter, Dan, said that 'The revenue won't be revealed, we can't even negotiate a fight in Denmark, so let me get this fight in the states, and he said, out of his own month, 'It's not enough, let's go in another direction.'
Ward to his fans:
"So many times, the off-the-record conversations play a role in the on-the-record narrative. There's conceptions about a particular situation or maybe a story being swayed one way, and they can influence the general fans and the general people who follow the sport because they only know what they know and what they read.
"If they're general sports fans and not general boxing fans, they may not necessarily dig deeper to find out what's true and what's not true, and they kind of just read what comes across as an alert on their phone or on their computer or whatever they read on Twitter.
"So I really appreciate the opportunity to voice my side to my fans and to my supporters who are observing situations like this. I think that it's important that my fans not only see me during the high times, but also during the times when I'm going through real situations like this.
"Because I'm human and I'm not always up. I know that as athletes, that's how we can be depicted, like everything is always all good. But this is real life and I want to make sure that my fans continue to hear my voice, and that my fans get to continue to see me around the fight game. It's just important for people to get the real-life stuff."