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Saturday, June 29, 2013
Goossen's deal with Ward upheld

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

The California State Athletic Commission on Friday upheld promoter Dan Goossen's promotional contract with super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who was seeking to terminate the agreement.

"We've enjoyed a very honorable and successful relationship with Andre Ward and I can only hope having to go through this whole legal process will only strengthen our relationship moving forward," Goossen said. "I've said for years that he had the talent -- both in and out of the ring -- possessed by the other greats before him such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and, of course, Floyd Mayweather.

"Now I look forward to getting back to promoting Andre's next bout, as well as helping him become the No. 1 fighter in the sport."

A few weeks ago, Ward, widely regarded as the No. 2 fighter behind pound-for-pound king Mayweather, filed for an arbitration hearing with the California commission seeking to void his contract with Goossen, who has promoted him for his entire professional career, which began following his 2004 Olympic gold medal victory. The case went before the commission on Tuesday with the ruling made Friday.

"I want to thank the California State Athletic Commission and the Attorney General's office for protecting not only their licensed boxers, but their licensed promoters as well," Goossen said.

Ward declined comment to ESPN.com on the ruling but said he hopes to return to the ring in September and that he is also weighing his options for a fight through the courts over his contract.

Before the hearing, Ward said he was unhappy because Goossen refused to include him, co-promoter Antonio Leonard and manager James Prince in meetings with HBO to discuss his future fights and marketing plans.

"I believe I am in the prime of my professional boxing career," Ward said before the ruling. "Actions of a California licensed promoter (Goossen) are preventing me from defending my title and pursuing my profession. A boxer has a limited timeframe to earn his livelihood, provide for his family and, let alone, perform at a championship caliber level. Goossen's actions leave me with the possibility of not stepping in to the ring at all in 2013."

Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Oakland, Calif., has not fought since last September, when he knocked out then-light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who had dropped down in weight to challenge for Ward's title. Ward was scheduled for a January defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, but Ward suffered a right shoulder injury and needed surgery, forcing the fight to be canceled and him into a long layoff.

Ward recently was cleared to train and said he felt good after his first sparring session. Goossen and HBO had been talking about a September date for Ward's return, but Ward said before the hearing that when he requested that the rest of his team also attend the meeting, Goossen refused to also attend.

"It is absolutely crazy to me that this man (Goossen) would stand in the way of Andre's boxing career and his next title defense, and not respect Andre's request that his co-promoter and manager be part of those discussions," Prince said. "Understandably, HBO did not want to get in the middle of any dispute between Andre's co-promoters or Andre and Goossen, but for this man to refuse to attend a meeting because he wanted to be the only one talking with HBO and have sole control over Andre's career is flat out wrong.

"There are multiple reasons to terminate the promotional agreement with Goossen and we are following proper procedures with our sole objective of always doing what is in the best interests of Andre Ward."

Said Ward, "Goossen had various opportunities to meet with HBO and to interact with my manager. He refused and otherwise did not respond to my team regarding these important business dealings concerning my career."