California judge rules in favor of promoter in lawsuit with Andre Ward

Kevin Iole
Super middleweight champ Andre Ward (L), with referee Jack Reiss in 2013 after defeating Edwin Rodriguez, lost another round in his bid to free himself from his deal with promoter Dan Goossen. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who previously lost two arbitration cases against promoter Dan Goossen with the California State Athletic Commission, lost another bid to break free of his promoter on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly E. Kendig ruled against Ward's contention that his contract with Goossen violated Section 2855 of the California Labor Code. Kendig also noted that the athletic commission had twice ruled against Ward on the contention. She has not issued a written ruling.

The clause is one that former boxer Oscar De La Hoya used in 2000 to break free of his contract from then promoter Top Rank. 

Promoter Dan Goossen. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images)

Paragraph (a) of Section 2855 says "Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b), a contract to render personal service ... may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it. Any contract, otherwise valid, to perform or render service of a special, unique, unusual, extraordinary, or intellectual character, which gives it peculiar value and the loss of which cannot be reasonably or adequately compensated in damages in an action at law, may nevertheless be enforced against the person contracting to render the service, for a term not to exceed seven years from the commencement of service under it. If the employee voluntarily continues to serve under it beyond that time, the contract may be referred to as affording a presumptive measure of the compensation."

Ward, the WBA super middleweight champion and widely regarded as the second-best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, was the last American man to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. He won that in 2004 and signed a promotional deal with Goossen shortly thereafter.

After Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, twice ruled against Ward in arbitration hearings, Ward filed suit earlier this month in California, alleging Goossen violated the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act by failing to properly provide disclosures about income he was making from fights Ward competed in.

Goossen countered by filing a defamation suit against Ward, seeking $10 million in damages.

Ward hasn't fought since Nov. 16, 2013, when he defeated Edwin Rodriguez on a Goossen-promoted card in Ontario, Calif. His previous bout before that was a Sept. 8, 2012, victory in Oakland, Calif., over Chad Dawson. Shortly after that bout, Ward underwent shoulder surgery.

Neither Goossen, Ward or Ward manager James Prince could be reached for comment.

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