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After two failed attempts, Andre Ward directly sues Dan Goossen to void contract

By Zach Arnold | December 9, 2013

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The on-going saga between Andre Ward’s camp and promoter Dan Goossen continues to get uglier by the minute. Ward wants out of his deal with Goossen-Tutor Promotions, which lasts until 2016.

So, TMZ (presented by UFC) published a screaming headline titled Andre Ward — I’m Suing My Boxing Promoter … YOU DON’T OWN ME!!

Now… the rest of the story.

During the Summer, Ward’s camp asked for an arbitration hearing with the California State Athletic Commission & AG’s office in Los Angeles to ask for Ward’s contract with GTP to be voided because Antonio Leonard, a close ally of manager James Prince, alleged that he was a co-promoter of Andre Ward with Dan Goossen. Leonard alleged that since he had a verbal deal with GTP and that such a deal wasn’t disclosed with CSAC that therefore the Ward/GTP deal should be terminated. The argument is as laughable as it sounds and Andy Foster smacked Ward’s camp down by rejecting their request to void the Ward/GTP agreement. That agreement was approved by Ward, his lawyer & manager, Goossen, and the California commission. So, there were no grounds to terminate such a deal based on Leonard’s claim. Strike one.

Upset that arbitration didn’t go well in Los Angeles, Leonard (and Prince) sued Goossen in a Houston trial court over the same allegations of Leonard allegedly being a co-promoter of Andre Ward with Dan Goossen on a verbal agreement. Leonard asked for a temporary injunction to withhold money and for an emergency court hearing. Goossen’s attorney asked for the suit to be removed to Federal court, where GTP has legal action pending against Leonard over his alleged claims of a verbal agreement to be Andre Ward’s co-promoter. Leonard & Prince had their TRO lifted on the money and haven’t been able to get a hearing in court. Strike two.

With arbitration in California and a trial hearing request in Houston falling flat, Ward has now directly sued Dan Goossen in Los Angeles Superior Court (case no. BC529798) and asked a judge for declaratory relief. His attorney, Alan Rader, is asking for the contract to be finished. The argument this time in court? That Ward’s dealings with Goossen have lasted longer than 7 years and therefore is illegal according to California Labor Code.

Nicole Duva of Main Events succinctly points out one legal problem for Ward’s camp:

Ward’s camp is arguing that the promotional deal with Goossen-Tutor Promotions violates California’s labor code and yet Antonio Leonard is claiming to be a co-promoter with Dan Goossen, the man that Ward is now suing over in LA Superior Court. You can’t make this up.

Antonio Leonard wanted the California State Athletic Commission to void the deal through arbitration because he didn’t disclose a verbal agreement he claims made him a co-promoter w/ GTP for Andre Ward. That deal, in and of itself, would be invalid in California because he never presented or disclosed it to CSAC in the first place. After losing in the California arbitration hearing, Leonard files the same claim in a Houston trial court and asks for an injunction on money to Dan Goossen… because he claims he is a co-promoter with GTP on the promotional agreements Ward now claims violate California labor code. Not exactly a persuasive argument to make in a Texas court that Texas is the jurisdiction over the contracts. You can’t claim in Houston that you have jurisdiction to sue in Texas over a California contract while having the fighter claim in Los Angeles that the California contract violates California labor law.

This is what you call legal desperation.

So, what we have here is Andre Ward’s camp claiming Dan Goossen violated California labor law while a member of Ward’s own camp is claiming to be a co-promoter with GTP, thus making Antonio Leonard a supposed violator of California labor law by their own legal theory. Let that sink in: After asking CSAC to void the Ward/GTP promotional deal on the grounds of Antonio Leonard not disclosing a supposed co-promoter relationship with GTP that’s invalid due to CSAC not approving such an arrangement, Antonio Leonard wants Texas to recognize him as Andre Ward’s co-promoter for a California promotional contract with GTP that Ward is now arguing in Los Angeles violates California labor code & should be void.

Is your head spinning fast enough at the contradictory claims being made here?

Here’s a summary of the argument made by Rader in the LA Superior Court complaint:

Throughout the nearly 10 years since winning his Olympic gold medal and turning professional, Ward has been continuously bound to a series of exclusive boxing promotion contracts with defendant Goossen Tutor Promotions, LLC. The latest such contract does not expire, according to GTP, until 2016.

To better provide for his family and to advance his career, Ward now seeks a judicial declaration that his contractual relationship with GTP violates California Labor Code section 2855(a)’s seven-year time limit on personal services contracts. Because this is a pure legal question, Ward will seek summary judgment at the earliest opportunity.

On November 19th, 2004, Ward entered into a five-year Exclusive Promotional Rights Agreement with GTP and three days later executed an Addendum to that agreement.

On August 12, 2009, before the expiration of the 2004 Agreement, Ward and GTP entered into a Multi-Bout Agreement. The 2009 Agreement committed Ward exclusively to GTP for a series of five fights, the last of which occurred on December 17, 2011.

On April 6, 2011, before the fifth fight under the 2009 Agreement, Ward and GTP entered into another Exclusive Promotional RIghts Agreement and seven days later executed an Addendum to that agreement (collectively, the “2011 Agreement”). … The 2011 Agreement commenced on its execution and would obligate Ward to fight exclusively for GTP until its expiration three years after his first fight under it. That fight took place on September 8, 2012. Consequently, absent the judicial relief sought in this action, Ward would remain exclusively bound to GTP until at least September 7, 2015. Moreover, Ward is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that GTP contends that the 2011 Agreements does not expire until well into 2016.

California Labor Code section 2855(a) provides that “a contract to render personal service … may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it.” Ward’s 2004, 2009, and 2011 Agreements with GTP constitute a continuous, uninterrupted contractual relationship for personal services of more than nine years, during which Ward has been exclusively bound to GTP and prevented from contracting to fight for any other promoter.

Rader cites the 2001 case between Oscar De La Hoya vs. Top Rank in which DLH got his contract voided due to it being over seven years in length.

However, he has a major problem with his legal argument.

The DLH case argued that one contract lasted over 7 years in length through Amendments made to extend an original Agreement and therefore should be voided. De La Hoya’s case was an unpublished Federal case that wasn’t binding on the California court system. The fight involved jurisdictional issues of California vs. New York.

In the case of Andre Ward & GTP, Ward purportedly signed several different agreements. Those agreements were approved by him, his manager, his lawyer, Dan Goossen, Goossen’s lawyer, and the California State Athletic Commission. They were separate deals. It was not one continuous deal that lasted over 7 years in length. The Addendums supposedly dealt with binding arbitration, not court action.

If you were to believe Rader’s argument on its face, then athletes in other sports who are under contract could not sign extensions (like Kobe Bryant with the Lakers) because such extensions would be viewed as one ongoing contract rather than different contracts agreed to by all parties involved. Rader’s argument is that it would violate California labor law.

If Ward’s camp was able to prevail on such a legal argument, it could cause havoc in California in terms of sports law. Goossen has promoted for a long time in California and organized most of Andre Ward’s fights in California. If Rader was able to convince a judge to establish a precedent that multiple contracts/extensions between an athlete and organization/promoter is equal to one long continuous contract that violates the 7-year rule in California’s Labor Code, it would open the door for athletes to immediately declare free agency on a whim via court order for declaratory relief.

Imagine what kind of labor scenario that would present for MLB, the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL. Such a precedent would kill any sort of long-term business relationships in the future between athletes and organizations/promoters. I cited Kobe Bryant earlier in this article. Bryant just signed another contract extension with the Lakers. According to Alan Rader’s logic, Kobe Bryant could void his extension with the Lakers on any grounds via a claim of declaratory relief at any time for any reason because his multiple contracts with the Lakers amounts to one giant continuous contract. This is the logic that Andre Ward’s camp is presenting in court.

To summarize the myriad of arguments made by Andre Ward’s camp to void his promotional deal with Dan Goossen (GTP):

If Top Rank wants Andre Ward, Bob Arum can pay his old friend Dan Goossen a lot of money.

Exit question: Why didn’t Andre Ward present his newest legal argument (the 7 year theory) at the CSAC arbitration hearing months ago as opposed to using the Antonio Leonard co-promoter argument?

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

19 Responses to “After two failed attempts, Andre Ward directly sues Dan Goossen to void contract”

  1. Chris says:

    I don’t see how Ward’s going to win this. I think he’s better off saving his money and leaving free and clear in 2016.

  2. […] Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… This entry was posted in Articles and Videos and tagged Andre Ward, Dan Goosen, zach arnold. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  3. rst says:

    Friggen boxing.

    Ward could have been the next big thing,
    now we might never know after he wastes his time and career playing politics.

  4. GlacierDon says:

    Ward is an idiot. That’s why he’s not a house hold name. Why wood you sign such a long contact with a nobody? He could’ve gotten better promotion from a flyer boy. Now he’s sick with a loser….smh

    • Fightnightsocialite says:

      Before resorting to calling people names, perhaps you should make sure that you spell your insults correctly. I’m just saying.

  5. Chuck says:

    Speaking of legal silliness with a name boxer; The IRS apparently filed a lawsuit against Manny Pacqiuao over the sum of eighteen MILLION dollars. He was hit by the Philippine government over fifty million dollars he owes in taxes as well. Time for him to sell one of his expensive Manila homes (he has a few of them. One of them the Philippine government has a lien on).

    • Tomer says:

      Link? Because if Pacquiao is being sued by the IRS, so is Top Rank due to the Effectively Connected Income withholding requirements (which makes the domestic party joint and severally liable on the withholding, which is why Arum has claimed several times that he properly remitted the withholdings to the IRS).

      Ed. — Fighthype posted this report touting evidence of the IRS claim.

      • Tomer says:

        Honestly, it seems like the IRS put a protective levy based on the claim by the Phillipines BIR and Arum is (supposedly) arguing with the IRS to show that he did wire the withholdings under the ECI rules/Section 861 of the IRC; given that I’ve had to deal with similar situations in the past (where the IRS ended up admitted that they screwed up the application of payments or were otherwise over-the-top with their behavior based on fears), color me skeptical that Arum actually violated the Internal Revenue Code unless there’s some actual substantive proof of tax evasion demonstrated (and TMZ didn’t seem to actually post the tax documents in question, from what I can tell).

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    Nexted TUF will feature Female Strawweight (115) and crown the first champion.

    UFC is now up to 10 weight classes. Insanity!

    • Tomer says:

      Only 7 more weight classes to go before they can match Boxing!

      • 45 Huddle says:

        My guess is that they will end up with 15. 10 for the men and 5 for the women….

        • Jonathan says:

          Five female weight classes, and ten for men?

          Man that is a lot!

        • 45 Huddle says:

          It is far too many. But with the number of shows they are doing they are going to need main events the attract fans. My guess is that in 5 years the UFC will look like this:

          Heavyweight – 265
          Light Heavyweight – 205
          Middleweight – 185
          Welterweight – 170
          Lightweight – 155
          Featherweight – 145
          Bantamweight – 135
          Flyweight – 125
          Strawweight – 115
          Atomweight – 105

          Featherweight – 145
          Bantamweight – 135
          Flyweight – 125
          Strawweight – 115
          Atomweight – 105

          The men might not go below 115, so it is debatable whether they have 9 or 10. But once the females get more fleshed out, it only takes one woman who they think can be a star but is either a little too big or small for Bantam/Straw and they will expand from there.

          I still don’t think the talent is their for the females to build entire divisions right now. The Bantamweight Division has 22 fighters signed to contracts but only 6 to 8 girls who I think are on par with what the talent level should be.

  7. david m says:

    If they are adding weight classes, I would like to see them split the difference between 185 and 205. I would support seeing 183 limit moved to 183, 205 moved up to 210, and adding a 195 pound belt in the middle.

  8. Jonathan says:


    So basically a cruiserweight division?

    • david m says:

      Yeah. Not sure why, but in mma, the fanbase is much more interested in big guys rather than small guys, BJ Penn notwithstanding (and 155 isn’t exactly small, given that those guys cut from 175 or more).

      • edub says:

        Yep. UFC LW is basically the same division of MW boxing, and greats like Hagler, Hopkins, and Maravilla (I pust Sugar Ray and ODLH in the WW category more).

  9. James Bagg says:

    Little known fact: Ward also sued James Prince in 2011.

  10. […] Goossen’s legal team quickly fought back and repeatedly beat Ward & Prince in court. Andre Ward tried to get out of his Dan Goossen contract via arbitration with the California State Athletic Commission and failed. Ward then turned around and sued Goossen […]


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