Imagine taking your boss to court, losing an emotional legal battle, then having to go right back to work for that boss while trying to move forward as if nothing happened.
This is Andre Ward's plight. And it is magnified because not only did he unsuccessfully try to extricate himself from his promotional contract with Goossen Tutor Promotions in June, he did it while rehabilitating his surgically repaired right shoulder that has left him on the shelf for 14 months.
Ward returns to the ring Saturday night for a super-middleweight fight against Edwin Rodriguez at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
One of Ward's complaints was that promoter Dan Goossen was allegedly curtailing his career because Goossen did not include him, co-promoter Antonio Leonard and manager James Prince in discussions with HBO regarding his future. Ward requested arbitration from the California State Athletic Commission, asking it to void his contract with Goossen.
Goossen won, and his contract with Ward remains intact.
"You've gotta find a way to put it behind you," said Ward, 29. "And it's the old adage, 'It's not personal, it's business.'"
Ward isn't thrilled about it, though, especially because he believes some of the stuff that was reported made him look bad.
"I think the story kind of got spun a certain way after the fact because any time a fighter stands up for himself and says, 'Hey, there's a problem here,' and it goes to a commission or it goes to a higher court, it's always looked at like it's a bad thing for the fighter," Ward said. "Like, you know, 'This ungrateful guy who is trying to get away for the wrong reason.'
"But it's behind us right now and I don't want to get too much into it. But I just know that if I did that, it was for reasons that I felt strong about, reasons that I really believed in. That being said, though I disagreed with the commission's decision, that's neither here nor there. It's the past and we put our heads together and we get back to business."
Goossen is hopeful they can do just that.
"Look, I mean, I never like to see anything come between what I think was a great relationship and will be a great relationship moving forward, but it did and I believe we're all past it now," Goossen said. "And all I want to do is get Andre back in the ring, let him get back into the fans' and the viewers' (minds) again."
That is, perhaps, the most important thing.
"There's an old saying, out of sight, out of mind," Goossen said. "And he's been out of the ring for 14 months and it's hard to keep that fan base while you're not out there participating. So the key right now is to get Andre back in that ring and let the fans see him again.
"I believe that will take care of a lot of ills."
Maybe, maybe not. Virgil Hunter, Ward's trainer, intimated Team Ward as a whole believes it received a raw deal from the California commission. He didn't say resentment exists, but his words suggest it might.
"Just because one certain thing turned out one particular way, doesn't mean it turned out the right way, that it was the right thing," Hunter said. "He (Ward) felt in his heart he was right with the stance that he made, I felt that he was right, the evidence said he was right.
"But, you know, sometimes there are alliances in this business that can contradict that. So in our hearts and in our minds and souls, we can live with that because we know deep down inside the truth. ... I'm proud of him how he handled that. And stay tuned."