Andre Ward To Roc Nation Sports?

Word on the street is Roc Nation Sports, the new Jay Z boxing promotional entity, wants Andre Ward to be a boxing building block for them, and are trying to get a bit creative about ways to get that done.

If you have followed the recent arc in the career of Ward, you know the Bay Area boxer is supremely talented, but that his exploits of late have been thin, simply because he hasn’t gloved up. First, there was an injury (November 2012) which kept him from taking part in a planned tussle against faded Kelly Pavlik. That was to unfold in January 2013.

But soon thereafter, Ward (27-0 with 14 KOs) started shifting his fighting away from the gym, to the business arena. He tried to split from promoter Dan Goossen, and employed lawyers and an arbitration session with the California State Athletic Commission in June 2013. He was rebuffed, as the Commission ruled in favor of Goosen, after the 30-year-old Ward complained that members of his team were kept out of the loop while Goossen discussed a Ward fight with HBO.

Ward complained that Goossen kept other members of his team, such as co-promoter Antonio Leonard, and advisor James Prince, a music CEO, out of the loop, while Goossen worked on hammering out deals with HBO, who has been the platform for his bouts of late.

In November 2013, Leonard tried to exert some leverage, looking to sue Goossen in Texas, because he alleged that Goossen was improperly seeking to cut him out of a valid co-promotional arrangement. Leonard got nowhere with that attempt. Ward kept on punching…

In April 2013, the Cali Commssion again saw things Goossen’s way, after Ward contended that Cali labor laws should invalidate a contractual deal with Goossen, because it exceeded seven years. No, Team Goossen argued, Mr. Ward of his own free will re-signed an extension, in 2011, and the Commission agreed. Ward’s attorney Josh Dubin took offense, and hit at the Commission’s trending towards not seeing things his client’s way. The Cali oversight body ruled that because of Ward’s “incapacity and/or uncooperativeness,” 14 months was being added to his contract with Goossen, and thus, the deal was good till Nov. 8, 2016.

Goossen countered that it was Ward who was the one keeping HIM out of the loop with HBO, and thus, that gummed up the works in putting a bout together for Ward. Goossen asserted he had a deal ready for Ward to face off against Mikkel Kessler, in February 2014, but that Ward didn’t want to play ball.

Ward, showing some of the pluck which serves him well in the ring, didn’t go quietly. In May, he said he “didn’t really have anything personal against Goossen. This isn’t a personal fight or personal vendetta.” But in early August 2014, Ward upped his charges, to a new level. His legal team filed suit alleging violations by Goossen of the Muhammad Ali Act. “Even though Goossen has promoted Mr. Ward for nearly his entire ten year professional career, and despite repeated requests by Mr. Ward, Goossen failed in all instances to make any timely disclosures to Mr. Ward under the Ali Act for any of his fights from 2004 through 2012,” read a portion of the Team Ward complaint. Goossen had about enough, and filed a countersuit, to the tune of a $10 million defamation charge versus Ward. Yes, it became, to my eyes, somewhat personal.

Goossen took umbrage at that accusation, but chose not to speak publicly, telling me he wanted the issue to be cleared up not in the public eye, but through our system of law. But it was clear he was somewhat stung that Ward would lodge what seemed like a smear to a proud man. He took the high road, though, refusing to engage in an in-the-press mud-throw-fest. On Aug. 20, a Cali Superior Court judge ruled against Ward, yet again. The status of the defamation countersuit by Goossen is unclear to me, at this time.

With the passing of Goossen on Sept. 29, the rumor mill started humming.

Here’s what I’ve been hearing:

Ward, or Ward and Roc Nation, will buy out the Goossen contract. Leonard will be part of a package, will hop aboard Team Roc Nation, to work in some capacity, and Ward will be freed from the Goossen deal, and be featured as Roc’s top dog boxing client. I also heard that people working at Goossen boxing, which includes son Craig Goossen and matchmaker Tom Brown, might be open to listening to buyout offers, but the figure Team Ward might like to offer isn’t in the right ballpark.

I reached out to Ward first, to see what is truth and what is just grist for the mill. His publicist wished me well, and said Ward had “no comment” when I asked about a buyout of the Goossen contract and a leap to Roc.

I also reached out to Leonard, to see if he could shed light on the issue. He took my call, said he would call back in 20 minutes, and I am hoping a call back is in fact on his To Do list.

Here is the “About” from his website, to help you get a sense of him:

Antonio Leonard Promotions is the premiere boxing promotions, management, and special events company. Our primary goal is to bring the most exciting and entertaining boxing events across the globe. Antonio Leonard Promotions was founded in 1995 by long time boxing manager and promoter Antonio Leonard. Antonio Leonard has managed and worked with many of our generations greatest world champion boxers such as Winky Wright, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Diego Corrales, Jeff Lacy, Roy Jones Jr, Andre Ward, and Chad Dawson. Mr. Leonard has been apart of many of the greatest boxing events of our time and looks forward to bringing that same excitement across the globe.

I reached out to Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Roc Nation Sports, to help shed light, and clarify the issue. Berkowitz didn’t respond to several emails or a phone message. Roc Nation chief operating officer David Itskowitch, when asked about these rumors, about Roc wanting Ward and Leonard coming aboard, about there being resistance on the Goossen side of accepting a buyout offer, replied, via email: “News to me. Haven’t heard that.”

I left a message requesting Craig Goossen, Dan’s son, who is taking over a portion of the reins of the boxing endeavor, to help clarify the issues, and I await his reply.

My take: as with most such rumbles, I would be most pleased if the lawyers had less to do with the matter. Maybe this all plays out and Ward gets to say “I told ya so” in five years, but to me, I see a talented guy reaching his possible prime who fought once in 2012, once in 2013, and hasn’t fought in 2014. The man is a fighter…who isn’t fighting where he does it best, in the ring. Here’s hoping peace pipes get brought out, an agreeable settlement occurs, and all involved can get busier making lawyers less happy, and fight fans more so.

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COMMENTS

-Radam G :

Roc Nation is gettin' heavy handed. Holla!


-The Commish :

Roc Nation is gettin' heavy handed. Holla!
With Al Haymon controlling so many top name fighters, and not weanting to do business with Roc Nation, ya' wonder just how big Roc Nation will be able to grow, even with a bank account as voluminous as theirs. Right now, it's what Haymon wants, Haymon gets. -Randy G.


-Radam G :

With Al Haymon controlling so many top name fighters, and not weanting to do business with Roc Nation, ya' wonder just how big Roc Nation will be able to grow, even with a bank account as voluminous as theirs. Right now, it's what Haymon wants, Haymon gets. -Randy G.
Haymon's days are numbered. He's going to get his arse. You heard it first here. Holla!


-Froggy :

Haymon's days are numbered. He's going to get his arse. You heard it first here. Holla!
I sure hope you are right Radam G, that would be great for the sport !


-brownsugar :

This sounds like potentially good news. I said several weeks ago that RocNation was relentless and has more working capitol than TR, GB, and Al Hayman combined due to its lobster grip on the entertainment business along with a multitude of diverse ventures in other areas. .....and all it takes is one major name to sign and the other ones sitting on the fence will follow suit. Only thing ....the fighters better be ready for a challenge ....ROC Nation is all about promoting blockbuster fights... Not extending some guys title reign. Hopefully more will be revealed.


-The Shadow :

I sure hope you are right Radam G, that would be great for the sport !
Why do you say that my friend?


-Radam G :

I sure hope you are right Radam G, that would be great for the sport !
You will see. I will be right. TsAh's motto is: "I came, I saw, I conquered -- Veni, vici, vidi!" Just as he did in the music industry. POOF! GONE! Holla!


-stormcentre :

Sure Al Haymon have a lot of good talent signed up. But good promotional outfits in boxing - particularly well heeled ones - have always known how to get around this and develop talent. Roc Nation (RN) have an almost endless pool of new and upcoming boxers to choose from that are all "chewing at the bit" to get a chance to showcase their talent. And as soon as it makes financial sense for the sanctions they will give RN attention and listen; just like the sanctions have done to promoters of choice in the past and currently. It's all about money, business and entertainment. Given that 3G has already, publicly, announced that Ward is too much for him right now, I would say that "if" RN can come to an agreement with GT Promotions, Prince and Ward; Ward would be an excellent statesman for RN's brand. Particularly if he fights and blows out some of the guys that Gennady's management have steered him away from. It's going to be interesting to see this all unfold. One thing is for sure, the Ward - Goossen Tutor relationship is over and it makes no sense to continue with it if other viable options exist.


-Skibbz :

Well didn't TSS get another hole in one?


-Radam G :

Well didn't TSS get another hole in one?
That it did. Holla!


-thegreyman :

Why do you say that my friend?
You like Haymon?


-oubobcat :

Roc Nation has announced its intentions officially now of being heavily involved in this sport. With the buyout of Shaw's company and now Ward, they intend to be major players. I foresee a new cold war building down the road and this one between Roc Nation and Al Haymon.


-Carmine Cas :

I hope Ward fights at least twice this year, I know that's wishful thinking but still would love to see him reclaim the unofficial #1p4p spot and claim the official standing.


-Froggy :

Why do you say that my friend?
I don't think he has done anything good for the sport so far, getting boxing on NBC would be good for the sport, "if done properly" ! tsAH is good at making money for some of his fighters without having to take risks, but that is not good for the sport ! I would be happy to hear I am wrong about this Shadow, I have no doubt you know things about it, that I don't !


-The Commish :

The rumblings are there from Roc Nation that they intend to jump into boxing both fulltime and as major players. They can only do that if they sign Andre Ward. It's not secret that Al Haymon wants to rule the roost and never have to deal with His arch enemy, Jay-Z, the owner of Roc Nation. However, if Roc Nation winds up signing Ward, many other young , talented fighters will head in that direction, instead of to Haymon, who already has around 150 pugs signed to contracts. Once Roc Nation works out a deal with Goossen Promotions to buy out the remaining year-and-half left on Ward's contract--and they WILL workit out--Roc Nation will be off an running towards becoming a promotional powerhouse in boxing. Yep. As we've been saying for the last year: 2015 is going to be a very interesting year! -Randy G.


-brownsugar :

The rumblings are there from Roc Nation that they intend to jump into boxing both fulltime and as major players. They can only do that if they sign Andre Ward. It's not secret that Al Haymon wants to rule the roost and never have to deal with His arch enemy, Jay-Z, the owner of Roc Nation. However, if Roc Nation winds up signing Ward, many other young , talented fighters will head in that direction, instead of to Haymon, who already has around 150 pugs signed to contracts. Once Roc Nation works out a deal with Goossen Promotions to buy out the remaining year-and-half left on Ward's contract--and they WILL workit out--Roc Nation will be off an running towards becoming a promotional powerhouse in boxing. Yep. As we've been saying for the last year: 2015 is going to be a very interesting year! -Randy G.
I read earlier today that Tom Brown of Goossen promotions said that Goossen and Ward have parted ways. With the lawsuit against Ward they can't get paid (if they win in court) if he isn't fighting.... and it's unethical to keep Ward on the bench if they don't plan to promote him due to the lawsuit. It's a win win for both sides. ROC Nation has considerably more disposable income than anyone else in the business and their primary business is entertainment. They want to meld concerts and boxing at one point and put on extravaganza's not just boxing events. The type people will talk about long after the parking lot is empty. As the Commish said, now that one of the most credible boxers in the sport has signed... the skepticism will melt away and others will follow, those who sign have be ready to entertain because RN will not be airing any duds. This is great for boxing and Ward. Ward's publicist tweeted that Ward should be back in the ring by early spring. I would seriously doubt that Ward could sign if Goossen hasn't officially already let him go. (probably with a guarantee of remuneration for the remaining part of the contract) A classy move if that's what happened.


-deepwater2 :

Good for Roc Nation. After Thurman and Quiilin turned them down and dumped a belt I figured they better avoid tsAH clients so they don't waste their time. They should sign Rigo if possible. Imagine having two if the top boxers in the sport? Good for them. Monopoly is bad for the sport. Top rank , GBP, K2 , matchroom and frank warren boxing ect. are good outfits that will drive the competition. I hear MSG will have a nice crowd tonight with a VIP area with sports personalities and celebrities and a party afterwards. It certainly won't just be like 50 no sense sliding down a rope. That's good for boxing.


-Pazuzu :

Good for Roc Nation. After Thurman and Quiilin turned them down and dumped a belt I figured they better avoid tsAH clients so they don't waste their time. They should sign Rigo if possible. Imagine having two if the top boxers in the sport? Good for them. Monopoly is bad for the sport. Top rank , GBP, K2 , matchroom and frank warren boxing ect. are good outfits that will drive the competition. I hear MSG will have a nice crowd tonight with a VIP area with sports personalities and celebrities and a party afterwards. It certainly won't just be like 50 no sense sliding down a rope. That's good for boxing.
Oh, man. Quillin must feel like a chump today.


-brownsugar :

Oh, man. Quillin must feel like a chump today.
it's interesting you said that, Tureano Johnson who nearly beat Stevenson in a onesided fight before being stopped via TKO in the last round has been posting his keen desire to face Golovkin during the past week. Johnson said, "I'm not Chicken Quillin, I wants the fight". Tureano would be a good fight for Quillin too, It'll be interesting to hear his response.


-Skibbz :

Good for Roc Nation. After Thurman and Quiilin turned them down and dumped a belt I figured they better avoid tsAH clients so they don't waste their time. They should sign Rigo if possible. Imagine having two if the top boxers in the sport? Good for them. Monopoly is bad for the sport. Top rank , GBP, K2 , matchroom and frank warren boxing ect. are good outfits that will drive the competition. I hear MSG will have a nice crowd tonight with a VIP area with sports personalities and celebrities and a party afterwards. It certainly won't just be like 50 no sense sliding down a rope. That's good for boxing.
you've got the right plans Deep that would be a perfect start for Jay Z. After Rigo's recent showing too his stock is still going strong. Even if the American consumer isn't so hot on him in Europe he would fill a lot of seats for sure, especially if he fought some local lads. @Paz yeah Quillin is a dunce! I sort of have a feeling Thurman is trying to hide his regrets in turning down Jay Z's 6 million dollar offer... What does Haymon have them on??


-deepwater2 :

it's interesting you said that, Tureano Johnson who nearly beat Stevenson in a onesided fight before being stopped via TKO in the last round has been posting his keen desire to face Golovkin during the past week. Johnson said, "I'm not Chicken Quillin, I wants the fight". Tureano would be a good fight for Quillin too, It'll be interesting to hear his response.
If chicken quillin says GGG doesn't make enough money what will he think of Tureano. My old trainer Milton was in the corner of Tureano when they jerked him . He wished I called him between rounds to say he was up big and they would of been more defensive.


-deepwater2 :

Yeah man. Roc nation has a special guest for tonight's fight. Rigo!


-brownsugar :

If chicken quillin says GGG doesn't make enough money what will he think of Tureano. My old trainer Milton was in the corner of Tureano when they jerked him . He wished I called him between rounds to say he was up big and they would of been more defensive.
Small world,.... a lot of people thought the stoppage was unnecessary, but I won't debate it, However if Johnson gets Golovkin, the carnage will be glorious. It probably wont last long, But Golovkin will appreciate the fact there are guys who are willing to stand in the pocket and bang with him


-deepwater2 :

I applaud any hungry boxer that will challenge the best . Its better than a fighter not fighting because of a promoter or how much he makes. Milton thought they would get robbed on the cards so he had Tur go out hard but it backfired on him . I should have called after the 8th round


-Pazuzu :

Small world,.... a lot of people thought the stoppage was unnecessary, but I won't debate it, However if Johnson gets Golovkin, the carnage will be glorious. It probably wont last long, But Golovkin will appreciate the fact there are guys who are willing to stand in the pocket and bang with him
Yup. Well, Johnson can show his stuff tonight on the Roc Nation card at MSG. And I bet SOG will be making an appearance as well. Jay-Z has obviously had this in the works for a while. Well played. TsAH better watch his a**. Floyd is the keystone of his empire, but his days at the pinnacle of the sports are numbered. Once he retires and young pugs see the treatment Haymon's b list fighters like Quillin get, it won't be long before the new breed starts turning the tide towards Roc. Competition in the market is a beautiful thing. I gotta say, 2015 is getting off to a good start.


-brownsugar :

Yup. Well, Johnson can show his stuff tonight on the Roc Nation card at MSG. And I bet SOG will be making an appearance as well. Jay-Z has obviously had this in the works for a while. Well played. TsAH better watch his a**. Floyd is the keystone of his empire, but his days at the pinnacle of the sports are numbered. Once he retires and young pugs see the treatment Haymon's b list fighters like Quillin get, it won't be long before the new breed starts turning the tide towards Roc. Competition in the market is a beautiful thing. I gotta say, 2015 is getting off to a good start.
Hallaluja ......not that I have many criticisms about Haymon, I just like ROC Nation so much more.


-Pazuzu :

I don't know what Haymon has on these guys, Skibzz. Maybe Thurman was holding out for the Mayweather sweepstakes...? Anyway, whatever it is, it's not going to last if Roc keeps making deals like this. It'll be very interesting to see what the details are for Ward's
I don't know what Haymon has on these guys, Skibzz. Maybe Thurman was holding out for the Mayweather sweepstakes...? Anyway, whatever it is, it's not going to last if Roc keeps making deals like this. It'll be very interesting to see what the details are for Ward's deal...


-deepwater2 :

@Paz yeah Quillin is a dunce! I sort of have a feeling Thurman is trying to hide his regrets in turning down Jay Z's 6 million dollar offer... What does Haymon have them on??
I don't know what Haymon has on these guys, Skibzz. Maybe Thurman was holding out for the Mayweather sweepstakes...? Anyway, whatever it is, it's not going to last if Roc keeps making deals like this. It'll be very interesting to see what the details are for Ward's deal...[/QUOTE] He has an iron clad contract that they can't get out of . Probably flashes money in the beginning or sets them up with something like a condo or car or car wash Sam Watson probably annoys them to the point that they can't stand it anymore. The contract is iron clad


-King Beef :

you've got the right plans Deep that would be a perfect start for Jay Z. After Rigo's recent showing too his stock is still going strong. Even if the American consumer isn't so hot on him in Europe he would fill a lot of seats for sure, especially if he fought some local lads. @Paz yeah Quillin is a dunce! I sort of have a feeling Thurman is trying to hide his regrets in turning down Jay Z's 6 million dollar offer... What does Haymon have them on??
Thurman has said he was very interested, but didn't want to be tied to 1 entity just yet. I guess what Haymon has over the rest is that he rarely signs any of the fighters he advises to 1 promoter. Thurman is rolling the dice, he is thinking he will be making that type of money anyway by this year. Either way it will be good to see Ward back in the ring, and hopefully Roc nation won't turn out like SMS.