By Ryan Maquiñana
Super middleweight champion Andre Ward explained the reasons behind his recent arbitration dispute with promoter Dan Goossen on HBO’s The Fight Game Saturday night.
Ward had called for an emergency hearing with the California State Athletic Commission last Tuesday as he was seeking a release from his contract with Goossen, his promoter since 2004. However, on Friday, the commission ruled in favor of upholding the contract and the extension Ward signed in 2011.
“I simply want my co-promoter Antonio Leonard, who has been my co-promoter since 2008 when he bought out Square Ring, Roy Jones’s company, and my trusted advisor and manager [James Prince], who frankly I’ve known long before I ever met Dan Goossen, to be at the negotiating table and in the room talking to the network and helping to negotiate my fights,” Ward said.
Goossen informed BoxingScene.com/CSNBayArea.com earlier this spring that Ward was targeting a September return, and it appeared that Ward was still amenable to patching things up as long as his terms were met.
“This is the way I want these things to be done,” Ward said. “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 the 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.”
Speculation has run rampant that if successful with his release, that Ward would sign with Top Rank and CEO Bob Arum in order to secure a fight down the line with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Ward denied that was the case when host Jim Lampley asked him first if he was eyeing a move to Top Rank, and second, if he was pursuing a Chavez clash.
“That’s a two-part question,” Ward said. “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 I respect run with that story without talking to me first.
“That’s a very superficial reason to try to leave a promoter. You know, I’m a man of my word, and as long as my contract is binding, I’m going to adhere to my contract like I always have. And people have to understand that litigation, these types of things, lawsuits, they cost money, and that’s the wrong reason to get out of a contract.”
Ward then turned his attention to a possible Chavez fight, which he believed could be finalized without having to jump ship to Top Rank.
“Frankly, I think that fight can be made,” Ward said. “I don’t think that’s a fight that Bob is running from. People have to understand that Dan Goossen and my team successfully negotiated with Bob to close the [Kelly] Pavlik deal. That deal was signed, sealed, and delivered before I got hurt.
“I just think 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, the I’m sure HBO wants it, the fans want to see it. And those are the type 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 Chavez wants it and everyone involved wants it.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.