Super middleweight world champion Andre Ward went on the record Saturday night to discuss his reasons for seeking a release from longtime promoter Dan Goossen.
Ward, an Oakland native, called for an arbitration hearing with the California State Athletic Commission last Tuesday to address the matter with the Southern California-based Goossen, his promoter since 2004. On Friday, however, the commission ruled to uphold the promotional contract and the extension Ward signed in 2011.
“I simply want my co-promoter Antonio Leonard…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 told HBO’s Jim Lampley.
Before the dispute arose, Goossen and Ward had targeted a September return to be televised on HBO. On Saturday, Ward seemed to leave the door open for reconciliation with Goossen as long as the promoter met his concerns.
“This is the way I want these things to be done. 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.”
Ward, who had been unavailable for comment this past week, then denied the widespread chatter in the industry that he was eyeing a move to rival promoter Top Rank and CEO Bob Arum in order to facilitate a potential pay-per-view bout with their fighter, Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs).
“That’s a two-part question. I’ll agree with the latter part (pursuing a Chavez fight), but the former part (his desire to join Top Rank) 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 (26-0, 14 KOs) has fully recovered from an injury to his right shoulder that caused him to postpone a fight earlier this year with Top Rank client Kelly Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), who subsequently retired. Regarding Chavez, another Top Rank fighter, Ward was confident that he could still secure a clash with him without having to sign with Arum’s Las Vegas-based company. However, such precedent is thin in recent times.
When dealing with superstars in their prime, Top Rank has a record of preferring to make fights where both fighters are under contract; for example, Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao has not faced anyone outside Arum’s stable since Ricky Hatton in 2009.
“Frankly, I think that fight can be made,” Ward said of a Chavez bout. “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 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. 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.”
In the meantime, Ward hopes to continue his ascent to the summit of the unofficial pound-for-pound rankings that determine the best fighter in the world regardless of weight class. Based on his skill set and dominant performances as of late, most publications have pegged Ward second only to Floyd Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs).
“I’ve always gotten in the sport not to be number two, but to be number one…Even though I feel like I got a strong resume for my age, Floyd has done it a lot longer, and he deserves that spot,” Ward said. “But that number one spot, when it’s my time, that’s something that I want.”