During a Thursday workout, Andre Ward was flanked by promoter Dan Goossen to address the situation with May 14 opponent Arthur Abraham and his promoter, Sauerland Event. On Wednesday, Sauerland and Abraham threatened to pull out of the bout while protesting the selection of officials by the California State Athletic Commission.
But while the news surprised Ward, he's still confident that the Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinal bout will go ahead.
"It's news to me yesterday," said the Oakland native. "That's why I have my promoter with me today and I am sure that it is all going to get worked out. There will be a fight. There's definitely going to be a fight. No fight, nobody makes any money. So I think they'll get it worked out."
"If there were no California officials, Andre wouldn't say anything," said Goossen. "All we want is to get out there and fight. Even fighting at home, it's never been a situation where Andre has said we have to fight at home. After the Kessler fight, Green wanted to fight out here because he made a lot of money. Bika was the same situation, he made a lot of money fighting out here. These other guys didn't have any homes so it wasn't to protect Andre Ward and keep him at close quarters; it was just the way the situation evolved.
"In other words, we have done everything that we are supposed to do and lived up to and that is what we will continue to do. Now it's just up to Sauerland and the Commission to work it out and that's final."
Ward, like his promoter, tried to dispel the notion that he has been given preferential treatment throughout the tournament. Both of his tournament fights have been at Oakland's Oracle Arena, as well as an interim bout late last year against Sakio Bika. The fight with Abraham is booked for Carson's Home Depot Center.
"Dan has said it many times and I have said many times. I know people think that I have some dealing behind the scenes, setting everything up where it's just right for Andre Ward but I have nothing to say about that," Ward said. "I have no say in that. That is why I have a promoter. That's the promoter's job to negotiate and deal and do whatever they are going to do."
And he agrees that the officials for the bout should be neutral. "There should be fair judges, they'll get it worked out."
The fighter also said that there were other possibilities for location of the fight, but that Abraham agreed to staging the fight in California.
Photo by Laura de la Torre/Goossen Tutor Promotions
"They made a comment saying that King Arthur has no problem with coming into my backyard, and they should know that my backyard is about 5 to 6 hours away from Carson, California," said Ward, who has also not exactly drawn massive audiences even fighting in his hometown. "Let's not make Arthur Abraham out to be the hero where he is doing us the favor because he is coming here."
Ward also noted that Abraham, like fellow Armenian star Vic Darchinyan, has plenty of good reason to fight in California.
"They are allowing Arthur Abraham to come to this venue for a specific reason and I think we all know what that is -- the Armenian population. They feel like they will have the advantage there and then it's about the money. So they are not doing us the favor. This is a co-promotion; this is something that they've agreed to. There were other venues available on the east coast. I was excited about going there to Atlantic City, possibly Portland and a few others. So it didn't have to be California, they wanted it to be here just as much as my side did."
Ward expanded upon his feelings about the criticism that he only fights at home.
"People have to talk about something on the website and blogs. Me fighting at home is something that people continue to talk about, it's not something I really pay a lot of attention to because I know how I got to this point and it certainly wasn't fighting in Oakland," he said.
"I have only had 4 fights out of  in Oakland and let’s not even talk about my amateur career. I am well schooled with fighting on the road, but again I think it was an awesome thing to be able to fight at home and we are looking to come back home and even make it bigger than it has been."
But while it's true that Ward has only had four pro fights in Oakland, those four fights are also the four most relevant or toughest of his career. And of his 23 professional fights, Ward has fought in California all but six times.
Still, Ward is focused on the task at hand, and not on where the fight is being held. And he says that he is not looking past Abraham, who has lost his last two fights in the tournament, being badly outboxed last year by both Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch.
"Either they say his back is against the wall and he's hungry so look out or they say this is going to be just a fight where that Ward is going to walk through him," said Ward. "I can't believe that, I can't believe either way. I have to prepare for each fight the same way, very methodically, mentally. I am expecting the best out of Abraham come May 14.
"The problems he represents remains to be seen, but his strengths are he believes in his punching power. They call him a puncher, they say that he hits hard and that he is physically very strong, but I believe that my physical strength is right up there with the best ever and I think he will see and notice that I hit a lot harder than what people perceive me to be.
"With that being said, it's going to be the same Arthur Abraham, in terms of style - he's going to cover up and maybe open up a little bit earlier, but he is going to look for that one big shot, that's what he does."
Ward admitted that nobody he's fought has been quite like Abraham in terms of style, but compared Abraham to a common past foe of both fighters: Colombia's Edison Miranda.
"In terms of just being a big puncher and believing in his power, I can liken him to Edison Miranda. Not defensively, but in terms of looking for that one big shot all night long. He is probably the main guy that I can compare him to." Ward defeated Miranda in May 2009, while Abraham holds a pair of wins -- one controversial, one definitive -- over the slugger.
During his rise to the elite ranks of the super middleweight division and even into the top ten of many pound-for-pound lists, the 27-year-old Ward has been noted for his ability to fight differently against different opponents. Against Edison Miranda, he boxed and moved. Against Mikkel Kessler, he forced a rough inside fight that gave Ward a big advantage. Against Allan Green, he bullied in a different manner. And in his last fight against the double-tough Sakio Bika, Ward won a gritty slugfest. He may have something new in store for Abraham, too.
"I think that you are going to see a little bit of everything. I have said that the last two fights because that is just my style. My style is adapting and doing what the other opponent doesn't believe that I am going to do," he said.
"We don't have a fear factor in our camp where we're going to be running away from Arthur Abraham, that's not the case. He's a 168 pound man and so am I. He's a former world champion and I am the current world champion. He wants to get a world title again and I want to defend my title. I am going to conduct myself accordingly. So, in other worlds, I am going to be myself and do what I gotta do."
Fans can only hope that this fight does indeed happen.