by David P. Greisman
More than two years ago, Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions entered his fighter, Andre Ward, into a tournament that had the potential to make him — to turn the super-middleweight prospect into a champion — or break him by putting him in the ring with many of the best 168-pound fighters in the sport.
It was the right choice. Two years later, Ward is just one fight away from winning the “Super Six” tournament.
Goossen spoke with BoxingScene.com on Friday shortly after Ward and his opponent, Carl Froch, weighed in for the finale.
BoxingScene.com: You and the other promoters were making an investment and a gamble by putting your fighters into this tournament. How much of a gamble did you see this being with Andre Ward?
Goossen: “I don’t know that ‘gamble’ is the right word, because you have those risks in a singular fight. What happens when you enter a tournament, you have less control of the circumstances moving forward. And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been reluctant to enter in tournaments, and that was back in the ‘80s, when Jerry Buss, who owned the Lakers and the Forum, also did a multitude of fights throughout the years in Los Angeles.
“He always had tournaments going, two, three of them a year. And they were always disappointing to me. I just never wanted to put any of my fighters in there. Gabe and Rafael Ruelas. Michael Nunn. I just felt it wasn’t good business to do that, not when you have good fighters.
“The reason why I acquiesced on this one is because it was leading to exactly what I wanted out of the box, and that was getting Mikkel Kessler’s title in Oakland, and without options, since we weren’t the mandatory. So that was a driving point. The next one was getting Jermain Taylor. And that was a fight that we’d been trying to get for a year, year and a half, two years prior to that. So it had two real good reasons to move forward.
“And the other one was having the Showtime platform that I felt was going to be important from the standpoint of being part of something that was innovative, that was new. Although tournaments have happened throughout the history of the sport, never like this have you had the top six fighters competing against one another.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think Andre Ward has done for his career by virtue of his performances so far in the tournament?
Goossen: “The first response would be he became a world champion. The next one is he established himself as a future star. Third is winning the inaugural ‘Super Six’ cup. And the fourth is utilizing this tournament to catapult him to that next level toward superstardom. That’s what it’s all about.
“Fighters that are journeyman fighters, 10-round fighters, world champions, they all have to put in a workload that the common person couldn’t do. So if you’re going to put in the sacrifices and the dedication, you might as well get as much as you can out of it.
“Andre is not looking for stardom from the standpoint of his own self-satisfaction. He just understands it comes with the territory. He’s very humble. He’s got his mind very secure. And I believe that’s one of the things that is going to translate to the American public is his humble-ness and his class.”
BoxingScene.com: Obviously you had to have confidence in Andre to put him into this tournament. But did you foresee him making it look as easy as it’s been for him so far?
Goossen: “You know, watching the [Edison] Miranda fight, I could see, along with the rest of the team, that he was ready for the challenge. That was really the defining fight from the standpoint of getting a glimpse of what we were about to see. And he did this against a Miranda that was in excellent shape and having the mindset that he could take this young whippersnapper that was, in a lot of people’s minds, inexperienced. But he displayed the viciousness, the toughness, that we’ve come to know and love.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you foresee the Carl Froch fight being easy, too?
Goossen: “At this level, I don’t think anything’s easy. Even if you dominate, it’s always tough. Froch has a mindset to go out there and try to exert his will on Andre, as Andre will with him. He’ll try to be rougher on Andre, as Andre will be with him. He’ll try to be stronger than Andre, as Andre will with him. And if all that was equal, what puts Andre ahead of the ballgame is that Andre’s a very talented fighter. He’s not one-dimensional.
“Someone asked me today, ‘He’s not a one-punch knockout fighter. He’s not this. He’s not that. Why do you think that is?’ I said, ‘Because I don’t put Andre in a hole.’ I wouldn’t want to be classified like Carl — a guy with a good chin and a knockout puncher. Because if you don’t knock out someone, the other asset you’ve got is taking a lot of punches on the chin. That’s nothing to be extolling those attributes.
“Andre’s strength is that he’s a fighter. Plain and simple. That’s what he does. He fights. He’s just a guy that goes out there and does whatever it takes to win.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you see the result being against Froch — aside from just Ward winning?
Goossen: “I can see him stopping Froch. I really can, despite the claims of a great chin.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you want next for Andre after the tournament’s done?
Goossen: “When the tournament’s finished, I want to get together with him and the rest of the team that has been on this journey, and have a little party.”
BoxingScene.com: How important is it for you to bring Andre back to the Oakland area for future fights?
Goossen: “I’d love to blow the roof off the Oracle Arena in a big fight.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]