By Jake Donovan
Andre Ward remains virtually invincible in the ring, but can’t seem to score a victory in the courtroom.
The reigning super middleweight king saw his latest attempt to break free from promoter Dan Goossen once again shot down in a court of law. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly E. Kending ruled late Tuesday afternoon to dismiss Ward’s request for separation from Goossen Tutor Promotions, citing a lack of basis upon which to invalidate the contract.
News of the hearing was passed along to BoxingScene.com through a brief and quoteless statement from Goossen Tutor’s press office. The story was first reported by Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.
Ward (27-0, 14KOs) contended that his contract with Goossen-Tutor—his co-promoter since turning pro in 2004–was in violation of California Labor Code Section 2588, which reads as follows:
2855. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), a contract to render personal service, other than a contract of apprenticeship as provided in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 3070), may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it. Any contract, otherwise valid, to perform or render service of a special, unique, unusual, extraordinary, or intellectual character, which gives it peculiar value and the loss of which cannot be reasonably or adequately compensated in damages in an action at law, may nevertheless be enforced against the person contracting to render the service, for a term not to exceed seven years from the commencement of service under it. If the employee voluntarily continues to serve under it beyond that time, the contract may be referred to as affording a presumptive measure of the compensation.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a):
(1) Any employee who is a party to a contract to render personal service in the production of phonorecords in which sounds are first fixed, as defined in Section 101 of Title 17 of the United States Code, may not invoke the provisions of subdivision (a) without first giving written notice to the employer in accordance with Section 1020 of the Code of Civil Procedure, specifying that the employee from and after a future date certain specified in the notice will no longer render service under the contract by reason of subdivision (a).
(2) Any party to a contract described in paragraph (1) shall have the right to recover damages for a breach of the contract occurring during its term in an action commenced during or after its term, but within the applicable period prescribed by law.
(3) If a party to a contract described in paragraph (1) is, or could contractually be, required to render personal service in the production of a specified quantity of the phonorecords and fails to render all of the required service prior to the date specified in the notice provided in paragraph (1), the party damaged by the failure shall have the right to recover damages for each phonorecord as to which that party has failed to render service in an action that, notwithstanding paragraph (2), shall be commenced within 45 days after the date specified in the notice.
The Los Angeles Superior Court believed different, with Judge Kendig citing that Ward has already twice before tried and failed to break from his contract through separate arbitration hearings with the California State Athletic Commission.
Ward filed the suit in early August, the main source of the lawsuit alleging that Goossen failed to disclose financial documents indicating how much his promotional company was making from Ward’s boxing events. The practice, as Ward’s legal team contended in the lawsuit, is a violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, a claim many fighters cite when attempting to break free from a promotional contract.
Goossen has since filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit, as reported earlier this month by BoxingScene.com Editor-In-Chief Rick Reeno.
For all of Ward’s legal battles, the unbeaten super middleweight remains inactive since last November. The success that came with winning the widely acclaimed Super Six World Boxing Classic has hardly spilled over into the aftermath. Ward has fought just twice since topping Carl Froch in their Dec. ’11 finals, scoring a knockout win over Chad Dawson in Sept. ’12 and a lethargic 12-round points win over Edwin Rodriguez last November. Both bouts aired on HBO, where he continues to serve as an expert color commentator.
Prior to turning pro, Ward captured a Gold medal – the last and only active American male boxer to have done so – in the 2004 Athens Olympics. The feat capped a brilliant amateur run, one that continued in the pro ranks as Ward hasn’t lost inside a boxing ring since he was 13 years old, a stretch that extends 17 years and counting.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox