Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Andre Ward signs multiyear extension
By Dan Rafael
Super middleweight titlist Andre Ward has been with promoter Dan Goossen since the day he turned pro after winning a 2004 Olympic gold medal. They will be together for a lot longer now that Ward has signed a multiyear promotional contract extension.
Ward also re-signed with co-promoter Antonio Leonard and manager James Prince, although terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"In Dan, I have a very strong promoter, two promoters actually, Antonio Leonard and Dan, and a strong manager," Ward said. "I have a great coach (Virgil Hunter), who has been with me from day one. We've got a strong foundation, strong stability and as we keep going to the top it's only going to get stronger, and I am happy to say that we signed an extension to our promotional deal.
"I think it was pretty much a no brainer because not only is Dan a West Coast guy and so am I, but we have chemistry, and that's big. So I am thankful for that today and I am proud to be announcing that news."
Goossen told ESPN.com that the deals were finalized about a month ago, but kept quiet as Ward prepared to defend his 168-pound title against Arthur Abraham in the semifinals of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), who hasn't lost since he was a 12-year-old amateur, easily defeated Abraham on May 14, scoring a near-shutout decision to advance to the final of the tournament in the fall.
Ward, 27, of Oakland, Calif., will face the winner of the June 4 semifinal between titleholder Carl Froch and Glen Johnson.
"Andre is that special individual that has grown immensely inside the ring as well as outside of it," Goossen said. "He's someone that I am very proud to be associated with not only in business, but in life. He is somebody that shows the strength and gumption to go out there and talk the talk and walk the walk."
Goossen said their agreement would have expired "near the end of the year."
"Andre is a special young man because he's a man of values and I just think he has all the talent in the world," Goossen said. "It's an exciting time for our company and for Andre."
Although Ward dealt with some injuries earlier in his career that caused some layoffs, he was moved well by Goossen matchmaker Tom Brown, so when he fought for a world title against Mikkel Kessler in the opening round of the Super Six in November 2009, he was ready.
Although Ward was the underdog, he easily defeated Kessler for an 11th-round technical decision victory to claim a belt. Ward has made three defenses, winning virtually every round against top contenders Allan Green, Sakio Bika and Abraham.
"I am living the dream right now by being a champion of the world to defend my title the way I have been defending it and just to have the team that I have behind me right now," Ward said. "It's a very strong team that doesn't have a lot of problems in house and when it comes to boxing that is very rare. As a team, and as an individual, we are right where we need to be."
Equipment and apparel giant Everlast also announced that Ward has signed an multiyear contract to exclusively use Everlast gear, as well as play a role in the company's direct-to-consumer and retail marketing plans.
"Andre Ward is the perfect brand ambassador for Everlast," said Matt Cowan, vice president of marketing and products for Everlast. "He is a champion in every sense of the word . . . His accomplishments in the ring speak for themselves and aside from being a world class athlete, we consider Andre a world class human being."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.