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Details on court battle between Andre Ward’s camp & Dan Goossen in Texas

By Zach Arnold | November 25, 2013

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Several months ago, Andre Ward asked for an arbitration hearing with the California State Athletic Commission to try to get out of his promotional contract with Dan Goossen. Both Ward & Goossen are California licensees. The contract was approved in California. So, it was hard to imagine on what grounds Ward’s camp had for convincing Executive Officer Andy Foster to terminate the promotional contract. Foster ruled in favor of Goossen.

Given Ward hanging out in Las Vegas and being a little bit more chatty to various boxing interviews, one could come up with an opinion that he and his Houston hip hop manager, James Prince, would perhaps be interested in working with Top Rank & Bob Arum. Arum and Goossen used to work together a long time ago.

After that attempt failed, news broke before the weigh-ins of the Andre Ward/Edwin Rodriguez fight in Ontario, California that Dan Goossen received a FAX notifying him that he had been sued by one of James Princes’ associates, Antonio Leonard. Questions immediately were raised as to why such a lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit was filed in a Texas state court in Houston.

Bay Area boxing writer Ryan Marquinana summarized the lawsuit news by noting that Leonard was claiming he had an oral agreement with Dan Goossen to be co-promoters. Leonard claimed that Goossen was going to ice him out as a co-promoter for future fights. The Boxing Scene link includes a link to the PDF of Leonard’s lawsuit filing.

The obvious question to ask here is why Leonard never had a written co-promotional agreement with Dan Goossen. If he had a written agreement, it would have been signed off/approved by the California State Athletic Commission. No written agreement meant no real basis for an arbitration case.

Leonard filed for a TRO (temporary restraining order) against Goossen in Houston. Why would Leonard think he has standing to file suit in Texas given that both Ward and Goossen do business in California? Leonard states in his own lawsuit filing that he is/was/tried to be licensed in California. Then what was he asking for at the arbitration hearing: to void Ward’s promotional agreement with Goossen because he, as a California licensee (or not), failed to disclose an alleged co-promotional agreement with both Andre Ward & Dan Goossen? No wonder Andy Foster ruled in favor of Dan Goossen.

Leonard further claimed that he got his tie-in originally to be a co-promoter of Andre Ward before and after buying out Square Ring Promotions from Roy Jones and that Ward wanted him as a co-promoter, therefore a supposed oral agreement for co-promotion was consummated. When Goossen said Leonard wasn’t his co-promoter, Leonard filed suit in Houston claiming breach of contract.

Punching back twice as hard

In response to Antonio Leonard’s lawsuit, Dan Goossen filed suit against Leonard in Los Angeles Superior Court for declaratory relief. The filing claims Ward & Goossen entered into an exclusive promotional rights agreement on April 6, 2011 and that Antonio Leonard isn’t licensed to be a promoter in California, the business venue where transactions between Ward & Goossen take place.

The filing reveals what happened at the California arbitration hearing. It quotes Andy Foster as stating that it appeared Antonio Leonard “deliberately kept Mr. Goossen uninformed about Mr. Leonard’s discussions with HBO” and that his interference led to a breakdown of relations between Ward & Goossen. The ruling also noted that any claims of co-promotional dealings were unenforceable because they weren’t disclosed and approved by California’s commission.

The Superior Court lawsuit asks for an entry of judgment to declare that any alleged contracts between Goossen and Leonard are null or must be dealt with in the jurisdiction of the California State Athletic Commission. Furthermore, the court is asked to issue an injunction against Leonard for engaging in interference in business matters between Ward & Goossen.

Houston, we have a problem

There was a hearing by a trial judge in Houston on Monday. A temporary 10-day TRO had been given to Leonard and money was kept aside in a trust account. Goossen’s side argued that Leonard was forum shopping. The trial judge removed the case from state court into Federal court. Now the next decision is whether the battle plays out in a Texas Federal court or if it gets pushed to a California federal court. Goossen went the offense after the Leonard suit was filed in order to ask for relief from Leonard’s alleged interference.

Bottom line? Leonard & Prince aren’t on solid legal footing here. The relationship between Ward & Goossen is further strained and yet contractually they are supposed to work together until the end of 2016.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “Details on court battle between Andre Ward’s camp & Dan Goossen in Texas”

  1. Chris says:

    I’m big fan of “SOG” but this suit sounds like a waste of time. I think the real issue is that he wants to be involved big money PPV type of events, and feels like his options with Goosen as his promoter are very limited. But it’s not like the grass is greener with someone else. Ward has pretty much cleaned out 168. And even a move to 175 is not going to give him a ton of big money PPV options unless it’s Bernard Hopkins who fights on Showtime.

    Seems like his best bet is to wait for Golovkin to keep knocking out guys and eventually move up to 168.

  2. Alan Conceicao says:

    Goosen isn’t necessary anymore to take a cut since they want to deal directly with HBO, and they want him out of the picture. Obviously, they’d try Houston because that’s where Prince is from, where he has pull thanks to significant political donations, et al.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      And the problem for them is that his deal with Ward is pretty straight-forward and done professionally by a pretty solid attorney.

      Prince/Leonard wanted California arbitration to throw out Ward/G agreement on the grounds that it should be void because they failed to disclose to California that Leonard, on an oral agreement, was co-promoter. Laughable.

      Prince/Leonard wanted a state trial court in Houston to make Goossen pay as a co-promoter and claimed standing on the grounds that since HBO fights of Andre Ward air in Texas that therefore Goossen & Ward do business in Texas. That is absolutely laughable as a court argument.

      Ward is stuck with Goossen until April 2016, bottom line.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    What big money fights is he going to find with other promoters?

    I think there was only 1 or 2 PPV’s presented by HBO/Showtime that didn’t include Mayweather or Manny this year.

    • Tomer says:

      The only opponent of note in his weight range that isn’t with HBO is Bernard Hopkins – the rest of the notable 175 guys are with HBO-affiliated promoters, Ward’s essentially cleaned out 168 (other than maybe Groves who got jobbed against Froch but I think will get roughed up badly by Ward) and 160 (other than Quillin, who is with Golden Boy). It’s pretty clear that they’re trying to angle for a late 2014 or maybe early 2015 Ward-GGG fight, although I honestly don’t know who HBO can give Ward as an opponent in the interim given his clean up of 168, unless he elects to fight one of the non-Hopkins 175 guys (the most likely option being the Pascal-Bute winner since HBO is angling for Stevenson-Kovalev and Cloud just got his teeth knocked in by Stevenson).

      I should note a correction: Ward didn’t clean out 160, but rather GGG is doing that, bit-by-bit (with the expectation that later next year or early in 2015 Ward and GGG will meet up at 168 as the top of 160 vs. top of 168).

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    While boxing has tons of issues…. like 50 plus champions and fighters pickibg their opponents…. One thing they are doing right is PPV in 2013.

    HBO and Showtime put on like 5 or 6 PPV’s combined and only for the biggest of biggest stars. Everything else was on TV.

    Imagine a UFC world where they did that. Imagine instead of the garbage they are putting on FOX in January… they put on both the Aldo and Cruz fights. It’s not like that PPV will do big business on PPV anyways…

  5. […] November of 2013, Dan Goossen was notified around the time of the Andre Ward/Edwin Rodriguez HBO fight that Antonio Leonard had sued Goossen in Texas. Leonard is connected to Houston rapper & Ward […]

  6. […] of James Prince’s associates, a man named Antonio Leonard, tried to sue Goossen in Texas claiming that he was unofficially a co-promoter of Ward but was “iced out.” Both Ward […]


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